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n 



A 



The 



'^^ Complete Short Stories 

of 
GUY de MAUPASSANT 






Ten Volumes 

in 

One 







p. F. COLLIER & SON CORPORATION 
3<^EW TORK 



i<^ty^S><itL/^i><;!t/^J^>^!iL/^J^^ 



Copyrighted, 1003, by 
M. WALTER DUNNE 
Ifislered at StaMoner&' Hall. London 
RA 



PRINTED Itt THE UNITED STATES O/ AltfTTRIC/ 



PROVO.UTAH 



Contents 

Volume I 



BALL-OF-FAT 1 

THE DIAMOND NECKLACE 28 

A PIECE OF STRING 34 

> THE STORY OF A FARM-GIRL 38 

[N THE MOONLIGHT 51 

MME. TELLIER'S EXCURSION 54 

LOVE .., 71 

MME. FIFI 75 

MONSIEUR PARENT S^ 

USELESS BEAUTY 109 

AN AFFAIR OF STATE 121 

BABETTE 127 

\ COCK CROWED 132 

aLIE LALA 135 

\ VAGABOND 138 

THE MOUNTEBANKS 146 

UGLY 149 

THE DEBT 152 

A NORMANDY JOKE 155 

THE FATHER 150 

THE ARTIST 164 

FALSE ALARM 16/ 

THAT PIG OF A MORIN... .. .....^ 172 



Volume II 



MISS HARRIET 18J 

THE HOLE 195 

THE INN 199 

A FAMILY 208 

BELLFLOWER 212 

IN THE WOOD 215 

THE MARQUIS DE FUMEROL 219 

SAVED 224 

THE SIGNAL 227 

THE DEVIL 231 

THE VENUS OF BRANIZA 236 

THE RABBIT 238 

LA MORILLONNE 243 

EPIPHANY 245 

SIMON'S PAPA 253 

WAITER, A BOCK! 259 

THE SEQUEL TO A DIVORCE 264 

THE CLOWN 268 

THE MAD WOMAN 271 

MADEMOISELLE 273 



Volume III 



A BAD ERROR 277 

THE PORT 280 

CHALI 286 

JEROBOAM 2Q5 



VIRTUE IN THE BALLET 296 

THE DOUBLE PINS 300 

HOW HE GOT THE LEGION OF HONOR .303 

A CRISIS 307 

GRAVEYARD SIRENS ; 311 

GROWING OLD .316 

A FRENCH ENOCH ARDEN 319 

JULIE ROMAIN 323 

AN UNREASONABLE WOMAN 32S 

ROSALIE PRUDENT 232 

HIPPOLYTE'S CLAIM 335 

BENOIST 33S 

FECUNDITY 342 

A WAY TO WEALTH 348 

AM I INSANE? ^52 

FORBIDDEN FRUIT 354 

THE CHARM DISPELLED 35<^ 

MADAME PARISSE 361 

MAKING A CONVERT 366 



-•- 



Volume IV 



A LITTLE WALK 371 

A WIFE'S CONFESSION 374 

A DEAD WOMAN'S SECRET 378 

LOVE'S AWAKENING 381 

BED NO. 29 385 

MARROCA 39:^ 



A PHILOSOPHER 398 

A MISTAKE 402 

FLORENTINE 406 

CONSIDERATION 410 

WOMAN'S WILES 414 

MOONLIGHT 418 

DOUBTFUL HAPPINESS 421 

HUMILIATION 425 

THE WEDDING NIGHT 429 

THE NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICER 434 

IN THE COURT ROOM.. 438 

A PECULIAR CASE 441 

A PRACTICAL JOKE 44.> 

A STRANGE FANCY 448 

AFTER DEATH 453 

ON CATS 458 

ROOM NO. ELEVEN 462 

ONE PHASE OF LOVE 466 

GOOD REASONS 471 

A FAIR EXCHANGE 474 

THE TOBACCO SHOP 47</ 

A POOR GIRL -... 484 

THE SUBSTITUTE 48J» 

A PASSION 491 



Volume V 

CAUGHT 497 

THE ORDERLY 490 

JOSEPH - 501 



REGRET 50f 

THE DEAF-MUTE SIC 

MAGNETISM 5V 

IN VARIOUS ROLES 519 

THE FALSE GEMS 523 

COUNTESS SATAN 527 

A USEFUL HOUSE 531 

THE COLONEL'S IDEAS 533 

TWO LITTLE SOLDIERS 537 

GHOSTS 542 

WAS IT A DREAM? 545 

THE NEW SENSATION 549 

VIRTUE! 551 

THE THIEF 554 

THE DIARY OF A MADMAN 557 

ON PERFUMES 560 

THE WILL 562 

IN HIS SWEETHEART'S LIVERY 565 

AN UNFORTUNATE LIKENESS 569 

A NIGHT IN WHITECHAPEL 571 

LOST 575 

A COUNTRY EXCURSION 577 

THE RELICS 584 

A RUPTURE ; 587 

MARGOT'S TAPERS 589 

THE ACCENT 592 

PROFITABLE BUSINESS 595 

BERTHA 598 

THE LAST STEP 604 



Volume VI 



A MESALLIANCE 607 

AN HONEST DEAL 612 

IHE LOG 615 

DELILA 619 

THE ILL-OMENED GROOM 623 

THE ODALISQUE OF SENICHOU 627 

BRIC-A BRAG 632 

THE ARTIST'S WIFE 635 

IN THE SPRING 639 

THE REAL ONE AND THE OTHER 643 

THE CARTER'S WENCH 645 

THE RENDEZVOUS 643 

SOLITUDE 652 

THE MAN WITH THE BLUE EYES 656 

AN ARTIFICE 659 

THE SPECTER 662 

THE RELIC / 667 

THE MARQUIS 67G 

A DEER PARK IN THE PROVINCES 674 

AN ADVENTURE 677 

THE BED 680 

UNDER THE YOKE 682 

A FASHIONABLE WOMAN 685 

WORDS OF LOVE , 690 

THE UPSTART 692 

HAPPINESS 695 

CHRISTMAS EVE 699 



THE AWAKENING 702 

THE WHITE LADY 705 

MADAME BAPTISTE 709 

REVENGE 713 

AN OLD MAID ! 717 

COMPLICATION 722 

FORGIVENESS 726 

THE WHITE WOLF 730 

TOINE 734 

AN ENTHUSIAST 739 

THE TRAVELER'S STORY -50 

■ — •- 

Volume VII 

A JOLLY FELLOW y^S 

A LIVELY FRIEND 760 

THE BLIND MAN : 764 

THE IMPOLITE SEX 767 

THE CORSICAN BANDIT 771 

THE DUEL 773 

THE LOVE OF LONG AGO 779 

THE FARMER'S WIFE 782 

BESIDE A DEAD MAN ..., 787 

A QUEER NIGHT IN PARIS 790 

A DUEL 79d 

THE UMBRELLA 800 

THE QUESTION OF LATIN 806 

MOTHER AND SON! ! ! 812 

HE? 816 



Volume VIII 



THE AVENGER 821 

THE CONSERVATORY 824 

LETTER FOUND ON A CORPSE 828 

THE LITTLE CASK 832 

POOR ANDREW 836 

A FISHING EXCURSION 840 

AFTER 843 

THE SPASM 847 

A MEETING 852 

A NEW YEAR'S GIFT 857 

MY UNCLE SOSTHENES 861 

ALL OVER 866 

MY LANDLADY 870 

THE HORRIBLE 874 

THE FIRST SNOWFALL 878 

THE WOODEN SHOES 884 

BOITELLE 887 

SELFISHNESS 803 



Volume IX 



THE WATCHDOG 897 

THE DANCERS 900 

CHRISTENING 903 

A COSTLY OUTING 906 

THE MAN WITH THE DOGS 909 

A KING'S SON = = 914 



MOHAMMED FRIPOUU 915 

"BELL" 924 

THE VICTIM 927 

THE ENGLISHMAN 930 



'«- 



Volume X 



SENTIMENT 935 

FRANCIS 938 

THE ASSASSIN 942 

SEMILLANTE 945 

ON THE RIVER 948 

SUICIDES 952 

A MIRACLE 955 

THE ACCURSED BREAD 959 

MY TWENTY-FIVE DAYS 962 

A LUCKY BURGLAR. 967 

AN ODD FEAST 970 

SYMPATHY 972 

A TRAVELER'S TALE 975 

LITTLE LOUISE ROQUE 979 



VOLUME t 



BALL-OF'PAT 



For many dajrs now the fag-end of 
the army had been straggling through 
the town. They were not troops, but a 
disbanded horde. The beards of the 
men were long and filthy, their uniforms 
in tatters, and they advanced at an 
easy pace without flag or regiment. All 
seemed worn-out and back-broken, inca- 
pable of c. thought or a resolution, 
marching by habit solely, and falling 
from fatigue as soon as they stopped. In 
short, they were a mobilized, pacific peo- 
ple, bending under the weight of the 
gun ; some little squads or. the alert, easy 
to take alarm and prompt in enthusiasm, 
ready to attack or to flee; and in the 
midst of them, some red breeches, the 
remains of a division broken up in a 
great battle ; Lon e somber artillery men 
in line with these varied kinds of foot 
soldiers; and, sometimes the brilliant 
helmet of a dragoon on foot who fol 
lowed with difficulty the shortest march 
of the lines. 

Some legions of free-shooters, under 
the heroic names of "Avengers of the 
Defeat," "Citizens of the Tomb," "Par- 
takers of Death," passed in their turn 
with the air of bandits. 

Their leaders were former cloth or 
grain merchants, ex-merchants in tallow 
or soap, warriors of circumstance, elected 
officers on account of their escutcheons 
and the length of their mustaches, cov- 
ered with arms and with braid, speaking 
in constrained voices, discussing plans of 
campai^, and pretending to carry 
agonized France alone on their swagger- 



ing shoulders, but sometimes fearing 
Jheir own soldiers, prison-birds, that 
were often brave at first and later 
proved to be plunderers and debauchees. 

It was said that the Prussians were 
going to enter Rouen. 

The National Guard who for two 
months had been carefully reconnoiter* 
ing in the neighboring woods, shooting 
sometimes their own sentinels, and ready 
fo:: a combat whenever a little wolf 
stirred in the thicket, had now returned 
to their firesides. Their arms, their uni- 
forms, all the murderous accoutrements 
with which they had lately struck fear 
into the national heart for three leagues 
in every direction, had suddenly dis- 
appeared. 

The last French soldiers finally came 
across ihe Seine to reach tne Audemer 
bridge through Saint-Sever and Bourg. 
Achard; and, marching behind, on foot, 
between two officers of ordnance, the 
General, in despair, unable to do any- 
thing with these incongruous tatters, 
himself lost in the breaking-up of a peo- 
ple accustomed to conquer, and disas- 
trously beaten, in spite of his legendary 
bravery. 

A profound calm, a frightful, silent 
expectancy had spread over the city. 
Many of the heavy citizens, emasculated 
by commerce, anxiously awaited the con- 
querors, trembling lest their roasting 
spits or kitchen knives be considered 
arms. 

All life seemed stopped; shops were 
closed, the streets dumb. Sometimes an 



WORK^ OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



inhabitant, intimidated by this silence, 
moved rapidly along next the walls. The 
agony of waiting made them. wish the 
enemy would come. 

In the afternoon of the day which fol- 
lowed the departure of the French 
troops, some uhlans, coming from one 
knows not where, crossed the town with 
celerity. Then, a little later, a black 
mass descended the side of St. Catha- 
rine, while two other invading bands ap- 
peared by the way of Darnetal and Bois- 
guillaume. The advance guard of the 
three bodies joined one another at the 
same moment in Hotel de Ville square 
and, by all the neighboring streets, the 
German army continued to arrive, 
spieading out its battalions, making the 
pavement resound under their hard, 
rhythmic step. 

Some orders of the commander, in a 
foreign, guttural voice, reached the 
houses which seemed dead and deserted, 
while behind closed shutters, eyes were 
watching these victorious men, masters 
of the city, of fortunes, of lives, 
through the "rights of war." The in- 
habitants, shut up in their rooms, were 
visited with the kind of excitement that 
a cataclysm, or some fatal upheaval of 
the earth, brings to us, against which all 
force is useless. For the same sensa- 
tion is produced each time that the 
established order of things is over- 
turned, when security no longer exists, 
and all that protect the laws of 
man and of nature find themselves at 
the mercy of unreasoning, ferocious 
brutality. The trembling of the earth 
crushing the houses and burying an en- 
tire people; a river overflowing its 
banks and carrying in its course the 



drowned peasants, carcasses of beeves^ 
and girders snatched from roofs, or a 
glorious army massacring those trying 
to defend themselves, leading others 
prisoners, pillaging in the name of the 
sword and thanking God to the sound 
of the cannon, all are alike frightful 
scourges which disconnect all belief in 
eternal justice, all the confidence that 
we have in the protection of Heaven 
and the reason of man. 

Some detachments rapped at each 
door, then disappeared into the houses. 
It was occupation after invasion. Then 
the duty commences for the conquered 
to show themselves gracious toward the 
conquerors. 

After some time, as soon as the first 
terror disappears, a new calm is estab- 
lished. In many families, the Prussian 
ofi&cer eats at the table. He is some- 
times well bred and, through politeness, 
pities France, and speaks of his repug- 
nance in taking part in this affair. One 
is grateful to him for this sentiment; 
then, one may be, some Hay or other, 
in neea of his protection. By treating 
him well, one has, perhaps, a less num- 
ber of men to feed. And why should 
we wound anyone on whom we are en- 
tirely dependent? To act thus would 
be less bravery than temerity. And 
temerity is no longer a fault of the 
commoner of Rouen, as it was at the 
time of the heroic defense, when their 
city became famous. Finally, each told 
himself that the highest judgment of 
French urbanity required that they be 
allowed to be polite to the strange sol- 
dier in the house, provided they did not 
show themselves familiar with him in 
public. Outside they would not make 
themselves known to each other, but at 



BALL-OF-FAT 



home thf^'j could chat freely, and the 
Gernian la'ght remain longer each eve- 
ning warming his feet at their hearth- 
stonei. 

Tht; towTi even took on, little by 
hrtle, its ordinary aspect. The French 
Scarcely went out, but the Prussian 
s6ldie]*s grumbled in the streets. In 
short, the ofificers of the Blue Hussars, 
wno dragged with arrogance their great 
weapons of death up and down the 
pavement, seemed to have no more 
grievous scorn for the simple citizens 
than the officers or the sportsmen who, 
the year before, drank in the same 
cafes. 

There was nevertheless, something in 
the air, something subtle and unknown, 
a strange, intolerable atmosphere like a 
penetrating odor, the odor of invasion. 
It filled the dwellings and the public 
places, changed the taste of the food, 
gave the impression of being on a 
journey, far away, among barbarous and 
dangerous tribes. 

The conquerors exacted money, much 
money. The inhabitants always paid 
and they were rich enough to do it. 
But the richer a trading Norman be- 
comes th3 more he suffers at every 
outlay, at each part of his fortune that 
he sees pass from his hands into those 
of another. 

Therefore, two or three leagues be- 
low the town, following the course of 
the river toward Croisset, Dieppedalle, 
or Biessart mariners and fishermen 
often picked up the swollen corpse of a 
German in uniform from the bottom of 
the river, kiiied by the blow of a knife, 
the head crushed with a stone, or per- 
haps ihrcwn into the water by a push 
from tlie hig^a bridge. The slime of the 



river bed buried these obscure van* 
geances, savage, but legitimate, un- 
known heroisms, mute attacks more 
perilous than the battles of broad day. 
and without the echoing sound of glory. 

For hatred of the foreigner always 
arouses some intrepid ones, who are 
ready to die for an idea. 

Finally, as soon as the invaders had 
brought the town quite under subjec- 
tion with their inflexible discipline, 
without having been guilty of any of the 
horrors for which they were famous 
along their triumphal line of march, 
people began to take courage, and the 
need of trade put new heart into the 
commerce of the country. Some had 
large interests at Havre, which the 
French army occupied, and they wished 
to try and reach this port by going to 
Dieppe by land and there embarking. 

They used their influence with the 
German soldiers with whom they had an 
acquaintance, and finally, an authoriza- 
tion of departure was obtained from the 
General-in-chief. 

Then, a large diligence, with four 
horses, having been engaged for thi? 
journey, and ten persons having en- 
gaged seats in it, it was resolved to set 
out on Tuesday morning before day- 
light, in order to escape observation. 

For some time before, the frost had 
been hardening the earth and on Mon- 
day, toward three o'clock, great black 
clouds coming from the north brought 
the snow which fell without interrup- 
tion during the evening and all night. 

At half past four in the morning, the 
travelers met in the courtyard of Hotel 
Normandie, where they were to take 
the carriage. 

They were still full of sleep, and 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



shivering '/ith cold under their wraps. 
They could only see each other dimly in 
the obscure hgnt, and the accumulation 
of heavy winter garments made them 
ail resemble fat curates in long cassocks. 
Only two of the men were acquainted; 
a third accosted them and they 
chatted: "I'm going to take my wife," 
said one. "I too," said another. "And 
I," said the third. The first added: 
"We shall not return to Rouen, and if 
the Prussians approach Havre, we shall 
go over to England." All had the same 
projects, being of the same mind. 

As yet the horses were not harnessed. 
A little lantern, carried by a stable boy, 
went out one door fron\ time to time, 
to immediately appear at another. The 
feet of the horses striking the floor 
could be heard, although deadened by 
the straw and litter, and the voice of a 
man talking to the beasts, sometimes 
swearing, came from the end of the 
building. A light tinkling of bells an- 
nounced that they were taking down the 
harness; this murmur soon became a 
clear and continuous rhythm by the 
movement of the animal, stopping 
sometimes, then breaking into a 
brusque shake which was accompanied 
by the dull stamp of a sabot upon th^ 
hard earth. 

The door suddenly closed. All noise 
ceased. The frozen citizens were silent; 
they remained immovable and stiff. 

A curtain of uninterrupted white 
flakes constantly sparkled in its de- 
scent to the ground. It effaced forms, 
and powdered everything with a downy 
moss. And nothing could be heard in 
*he great silence. The town was calm, 
and buried under the wintry frost, as 
iJijis fall of spow. unnamable and float- 



ing, a sensation rather than a sound 
(trembling atoms which only seem to 
fill all space), came to cover the earth. 

The man reappeared with his lantern, 
pulling at the end of a rope a sad horse 
which would not come willingly. He 
placed him against the pole,- fastened 
the traces, walked about a long time ad- 
justing the harness, for he had the usp 
of but one hand, the other carrying the 
lantern. As he went for the second 
horse, he noticed the travelers, mo- 
tionless, already white with snow, and 
said to them: "Why not get into the 
carriage? You will be under cover, at 
least," 

They had evidently not thought of it, 
and they hastened to do so. The three 
men installed their wives at the back 
and then followed them. Then the 
other forms, undecided and veiled, took 
in their turn the last places without ex- 
changing a word. 

The floor was covered with straw, in 
which the feet ensconced themselves. 
The ladies at the back having brought 
little copper foot stoves, with a carbon 
fire, lighted them and, for some time, in 
low voices, enumerated the advantages 
of the appliances, repeating? things that 
they had known for a long time. 

Finally, the carriage was harnessed 
with six horses instead of four, because 
the traveling was very bad, and a voice 
called out: 

"Is everybody aboard?" 

And a voice within answered: *^es." 

They were off. The carriage moved 
slowly, slowly for a little way. The 
wheels were imbedded in the snow; the 
whole body groaned with heavy crack- 
ing sounds; the horses glistened, puffedr 
and smoked; and the great whio of the 



BALL-OF-FAT 



driver snapped without ceasing, hover- 
ing about on all sides, knotting and un- 
rolling itself like a thm serpent, lash- 
ing brusquely some horse on the re- 
bound, which then put forth its most 
violent effort. 

Now the day was imperceptibly 
dawning. The light flakes, which one of 
the travelers, a Rouenese by birth, said 
looked like a shower of cotton, no 
longer fell. A faint light filtered 
through the great dull clouds, which 
rendered more brilliant the white of the 
fields, where appeared a line of great 
trees clothed in whiteness, or a chimney 
with a cap of snow. 

In the carriage, each looked at the 
others curiously, in the sad light of this 
dawn. 

At the back, in the best places, Mr. 
Loiseau, wholesale merchant of wine, of 
Grand-Pent street, and Mrs. Loiseau 
were sleeping opposite each other. 
Loiseau had bought out his former pa- 
tron who failed in business, and made 
his fortune. He sold bad wine at a 
good price to small retailers in the 
country, and passed among his friends 
and acquaintances as a knavish wag, 
a true Norman full of deceit and 
joviality. 

His reputation as a sharpr' ^as so 
well established that one evening at the 
residence of the prefect, Mr. Tournel, 
author of some fables and songs, of 
P keen, satirical mind, a local celebrity, 
having proposed to some ladies, who 
seemed to be getting a little sleepy, that 
they make up a game of 'Xoiseau 
tricks," the joke traversed the rooms of 
the prefect, reached those of the town, 
and then, in the months to come, made 



many a face in the provincj expand 

with laughter. 

Loiseau was especially known for his 
lov<; of farce of every kind, for his 
jokes, good and bad; and no one could 
ever talk with him without thinking. 
"He is invaluable, this Loiseau." Of 
tall figure, his balloon-shaped front was 
surmounted by a ruddy face surrounded 
by gray whiskers. 

His wife, large, strong, and resolute, 
with a quick, decisive manner, was the 
order and arithmetic of this house of 
commerce, while he was the life of it 
through his joyous activity. 

Beside them, Mr. Carre Lamadon 
held himself with great dignity, as if 
belonging to a superior caste; a con- 
siderable man, in cottons, proprietor ol 
three mills, ofi&cer of the Legion of 
Honor, and member of the General 
Council. He had remained, during the 
Empire, chief of the friendly opposi- 
tion, famous for making the Emperor 
pay more dear for rallying to the cause 
than if he had combated it with blunted 
arms, according to his own story. 
Madame Carre-Lamadon, much younger 
than her husband, v;as the cor.solation 
of ofi&cers of good family sent to Rouen 
in garrison. She sat opposite her hus- 
band, very dainty, petite, and pretty, 
wrapped closely in furs and looking with 
sad eycb at the interior of the carriage. 

Her neighbors, the Count and Count- 
ess Hubert de Breville, bore the name 
of one of the most ancient and noble 
families of Normandy. The Count, an 
old gentleman of good figure, accen- 
tuated, by the artifices of his toilette, 
his resemblance to King Henry IV., 
who, following a glorious legend of the 
family, had impregnated one of the 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



De Breville ladies, whose husband, for 
this reason, was made a count and 
governor ot the province. 

A colleague of Mr. Carre-Lamadon 
in the General Council, Count Hubert 
represented the Orleans party in the 
Department. 

The story of his marriage with the 
daughter of a little captain of a priva- 
teer had always remained a mystery. 
But as the Countess had a grand air, 
received better than anyone, and passed 
for having been loved by the son of 
Louis Philippe, all the nobility did her 
honor, and her salon remained the first 
in the country, the only one which pre- 
served the old gallantry, and to which 
the entree was difficult. The fortune 
of the Brevilles amounted, it was said, 
to five hundrea thousand francs in in- 
come, all in good securities. 

These- six persons formed the foun- 
dation of the carriage company, the 
society side, serene and strong, honest, 
established people, who had both re- 
ligion and principles. 

By a strange chance, all the women 
were upon the same seat ; and the Count- 
ess had for neighbors two sisters who 
picked at long strings of beads and 
muttered some Paters and Aves. One 
was old and as pitted with smallpox as 
if she had received a broadside of grape- 
shot full in the face. The other, very 
sad, had a pretty face and a disease 
of the lungs, which, added to their de- 
voted faith, illumined them and made 
them appear like martyrs. 

Opposite these two devotees were a 
man and a woman who attracted the 
notice of all. The man, well known, 
was Cornudet the democrat, the terror 
of respecta]?le people. For twenty years 



he had soaked his great red beard in 
the bocks of all the democratic cafes. 
He had consumed with his friends and 
confreres a rathe: pretty fortune left 
him by his father, an oid confectioner, 
and he awaited the establishing of the 
Republic with impatience, that he might 
have the position he merited by his 
great expenditures. On the fourth of 
September, by some joke perhaps, he 
believed himself elected prefect, but 
when he went to assume the duties, 
the clerks of the office were masters of 
the place and refused to recognize him, 
obliging him to retreat. Rather a good 
bachelor, on the whole, inoffensive and 
serviceable, he had busied himself, with 
incomparable ardor, in organizing the 
defense against the Prussians. He had 
dug holes in all the plains, cut down 
young trees from the neij^hboring 
forests, sown snares over all routes and, 
at the approach of the enemy, took 
himself quickly back to the town. He 
now thought he could be of more use 
in Havre where more entrenchments 
would be necessary. 

The woman, one of those called a 
coquette, was celebrated for her em- 
bonpoint, which had given her the nick- 
name of ''Ball-of-Fat." Small, round, 
and fat as lard, with puffy fingers choked 
at the phalanges, like chaplets of short 
sausages; with a stretched and shining 
skin, an enormous bosom which shook 
under her dress, she was, neverthe- 
less, pleasing and sought after, on ac- 
count of a certain freshness and breezi- 
ness of disposition. Her face was a 
round apple, a peony bud ready to pop 
into bloom, and inside that opened two 
great black eyes, shaded with thick 



BALL-OF-FAT 



brows that cast a shadow within; and 
below, a charming mouth, humid for 
kissing, furnished with shining, micro- 
scopic baby teeth. She was, it was said, 
full of admirable qualities. 

As soon as she was recognized, a 
whisper went around among the honest 
women, and the words "prostitute" and 
"public shame" were whispered so 
loud that she raised her head. Then she 
threw at her neighbors such a provok- 
ing, courageous look that a great silence 
reigned, and everybody looked down ex- 
cept Loiseau, who watched her with an 
exhilarated air. 

And immediately conversation began 
among the three ladies, whom the pres- 
ence of this girl had suddenly rendered 
friendly, almost intimate. It seemed 
to them they should bring their married 
dignity into union in opposition to that 
sold without shame; for legal love al- 
ways takes on a tone of contempt for 
its free confrere. 

The three men, also drawn together 
by an instinct of preservation at the 
sight of Cornudet, talked money with 
^ certain high tone of disdain for the 
poor. Count Hubert talked of the 
havoc which the Prussians had caused, 
the losses which resulted from being 
robbed of cattle and from destroyed 
crops, with the assurance of a great 
lord, ten times millionaire whom these 
ravages would scarcely cramp for i 
year. Mr. Carre-Lamadon, largely ex- 
perienced in the cotton industry, had 
had need of sending six hundred thou- 
sand francs to England, as a trifle in 
reserve if it should be needed. As for 
ivoiseau, he had arranged with the 
French administration to sell them all 
the wines that remained in his cellars. 



on account of which the State owed 
him a formidable sum, which he 
counted on collecting at Havre. 

And all three threw toward each other 
swift and amicable glances. 

Although in different conditions, they 
felt themselves to be brothers through 
money, that grand free-masonry of 
those who possess it, and make the 
gold rattle by putting iheir hands in 
their trousers' pockets. 

The carriage went so slov/ly that at 
ten o'clock in the morning they had 
not gone four leagues. The men had 
got down three times to climb hills on 
foot. They began to bo disturbed be- 
cause they should be now taking break- 
fast at Totes and they despaired now 
of reaching there before night. Each 
one had begun to watch for an inn along 
the route, when the carriage foundered 
in a snowdrift, and it took two hours to 
extricate it. 

Growing appetites troubled theit 
minds; and no eating-house, no wine 
shop showed itself, the approach of the 
Prussians and the passage of the troops 
having frightened away all these in- 
dustries. 

The gentlemen ran to the farms along 
the way for provisions, but they did 
not even find bread, for the defiant 
peasant had concealed his stores for 
fear of being pillaged by the soldiers 
who, having nothing to put between 
their teeth, took by force whatever they 
discovered. 

Toward one o'clock in the afternoon, 
Loiseau announced that there was a de- 
cided hollow in his stomach. Every- 
body suffered with him, and the violent 
need of eating, ever increasing, had 
killed conversation. 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANi' 



From time to time some one yawned; 
another immediately imitated him; and 
each, in his turn, in accordance with 
his character, his knowledge of life, and 
his social position, opened his mouth 
with carelessness or modesty, placing 
his hand quickly before the yawning 
hole from whence issued a vapor. 

Ball-of-Fat, after many attempts, 
bent down as if seeking something un- 
der her skirts. She hesitated a second, 
looked at her neighbors, then sat up 
again tranquilly. The faces were pale 
and drawn. Loiseau affirmed that he 
would give a thousand francs for a small 
ham. His wife made a gesture, as if 
in protest; but she kept quiet. She was 
always troubled when anyone spoke of 
squandering money, and could not com- 
prehend any pleasantry on the subject. 
"The fact is," said the Count, "I can- 
not understand why I did not think to 
.bring some provisions with me." Each 
xeproached himself in the same way. 

However, Cornudet had a flask full 
of rum. He offered it; it was refused 
coldly. Loiseau alone accepted two 
swallows, and then passed back the 
flask saying, by way of thanks: "It is 
good all the same; it is warming and 
checks the appetite." The alcohol put 
him in good-humor and he proposed 
that they do as they did on th^. little 
ship in the song, eat the fattest of the 
passengers. . This indirect allusion to 
Ball-of-Fat choked the well-bred people. 
They said nothing. Cornudet alone 
laughed. The two good sisters had 
ceased to mumble their rosaries and, 
with their hands enfolded in their great 
sleeves, held themselves immovable, ob- 
stinately lowering their eyes, without 



doubt offering to Heaven the suffering 
it had brought upon them. 

Finally at three o'clock, when they 
found themselves in the midst of an 
interminable plain, without a single vil- 
lage in sight, Ball-of-Fat bending down 
quickly drew from under the seat a 
large basket covered with a white 
napkin. 

At first she brought out a little china 
plate and a silver cup; tlien a large 
dish in which there were two whole 
chickens, cut up and imbedded in their 
own jelly. And one could stiil see 
in the basket other good things, some 
pates f fruits, and sweetmeats, pro- 
visions for three days if they should 
not see the kitchen of an inn. Four 
necks of bottles were seen among the 
packages of food. She took a wing 
of a chicken and began to eat it deli- 
cately, with one of those little biscuits 
called "Regence" in Normandy. 

All looks were turned in her direction. 
Then the odor spread, enlarging the 
nostrils and making the mouth water, 
besides causing a painful contraction of 
the jaw behind the ears. The scorn of 
the women for this girl became fero- 
cious, as if they had a desire to kill her 
and throw her out cf the carriage into 
the snow, her, her silver cup, her basket, 
provisions and all. 

But Loiseau with his eyes devoured 
the dish of chicken. He said: "For- 
tunately Madame had more precaution 
than we. There are some people who 
know how to think ahead always." 

She turned toward him, saying: "If 
you would like some of it, sir? It is 
hard to go without breakfast so long." 

He saluted her and replied: "Faith, I 
franklv cannot refuse: I can stand it no 



BALL-OF-FAT 



longer. Everjrthing goes in time of war, 
does it not, Madame?" And then cast- 
ing a comprehensive glance around, he 
added: "In moments like this, one can 
but be pleased to find people who are 
obliging." 

He had a newspaper which he 
spread out on his knees, that no spot 
might come to his pantaloons, rnd upon 
the point of a knife that he always 
carried in his pocket, he took up a leg 
all glistening with jelly, put it between 
his teeth and masticated it with a satis- 
faction so evident that there ran through 
the carriage a great sigh of distress. 

Then Ball-of-Fat, in a sweet and 
humble voice, proposed that the two 
sisters partake of her collation. They 
both accepted instantly and, without 
raising their eyes, began to eat very 
quickly, after stammering their thanks. 
Cornudet no longer refused the offers 
of his neighbor, and they formed with 
the sisters a sort of table, by spreading 
out some newspapers upon their knees. 

The mouths opened and shut with- 
out ceasing, they masticated, swallowed, 
gulping ferociously. Loiseau in his 
corner was working hard and, in a low 
voice, was trying to induce his wife to 
follow his example. She resisted for a 
long time; then, when a drawn sen- 
sation ran through her body, she 
yielded. Her husband, rounding his 
phrase, asked their "charming com- 
panion" if he might be allowed to offer 
a little piece to Madame Loiseau. 

She replied: "Why, yes, certainly, 
sir," with an amiable smile, as she 
passed the dish. 

An embarrassing thing confronted 
them when they opened the first bottle 
of Bordeaux: they had but one cup. 



Each passed it after haviiig tasted. 
Cornudet alone, for politeness without 
doubt, placed his lips at the spot left 
humid by his fair neighbor. 

Then, surrounded by people eating, 
^ufff :ated by the odors of the food, the 
Count and Countess de Breville, as well 
cS Madame and M. Carre-Lamadon, 
\.ere suffering that odious torment 
which has preserved the name of Tan- 
talus. Suddenly thi young wife of the 
manufacturer gave forth such a sigh 
that all heads were turned in her direc- 
tion; she was as white as the snow 
without; her eyes closed, her head 
drooped; she had lost consciousness. 
Her husband, much excited, implored 
the help of everybody. Each lost his 
head completely, until the elder of the 
two sisters, holding the head of the 
sufferer, slipped Ball-of-Fat's cup be- 
tween her lips and forced her to swal- 
low a few drops of wine. The pretty 
little lady revived, opened her eyes, 
smiled, and declared in a dying voice 
that she felt very well now. But, in 
order that the attack might not return 
the sister urged her to drink a full glasj 
of Bordeaux, and added: *'It is jus» 
hunger, nothing more." 

Then Ball-of-Fat, blushing and em 
barrassed, looked at the four travelers 
who had fasted and stammered: "Good 
ness knows! if I dared to offer any 
thing to these gentlemen and ladies, } 
would — " Then she was silent, as it 
fearing an insult. Loiseau took up the 
word: "Ah! certainly, in times like 
these all the world are brothers and 
ought to aid each other. Come, ladies 
without ceremony; why the devil not 
accept? We do not know whether we 
shall even find a house where we cac 



10 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



pass the night. At the pace we are 
going now, we shall not reach Totes 
before noon to-morrow — " 

They still hesitated, no one daring to 
assume the responsibility of a "Yes." 
The Count decided the question. He 
turned toward the fat, intimidated girl 
and, taking on a grand air of con- 
descension, he said to her: 

"We accept with gratitude, Madame." 

It is the first step that counts. The 
Rubicon passed, one lends himself to 
the occasion squarely. The basket was 
stripped. It still contained a pate de 
foie graSy a pate of larks, a piece of 
smoked tongue, some preserved pears, 
a loaf of hard bread, some wafers, and 
a full cup of pickled gherkins and 
onions, of v/hich crudities Ball-of-Fat, 
like all women, was extremely fond. 

They could not eat this girl's pro- 
visions without speaking to her. And 
so tliey chatted, with reserve at first; 
then, as she carried herself well, with 
more abandon. The ladies De Breville 
and Carre-Lamadon, who were ac- 
quainted with all the ins and outs of 
good-breeding, were gracious with a 
certain delicacyo The Countess, espe- 
cially, showed that amiable condescen- 
sion of very noble ladies who do not fear 
being spoiled by contact with anyone, 
and was charming. But the great Ma- 
dame Loiseau, who had the soul of a 
plebian, remained crabbed, saying little 
and eating much. 

The conversation was about the war, 
naturally. They related the horrible 
deeds of the Prussians, the brave acts of 
the French; and all of them, although 
running away, did homage to those who 
stayed behind. Then personal stories 
began to be told, and Ball-of-Fat re- 



lated, with sincere emotion, and in the 
heated words that such girls sometimes 
use in expressing their natural feelings, 
how she had left Rouen: 

"I believed at first that I could re- 
main," she said. "I had my house full 
of provisions, and I preferred to feed 
a few soldiers rather than expatriate 
myself, to go I knew not where. But as 
soon as I saw them, those Prussians, 
that was too much for me! They made 
my blood boil with anger, and I wept 
for very shame all day long. Oh! if 1 
were only a man! I vvatched them 
from my windows, the great porkers 
with their pointed helmets, and my maid 
held mv hands to keep me from throw- 
ing the furniture down u[»on them- 
Then one of them came to lodge at my 
house; I sprang at his throat the first 
thing; they are no more difficult to 
strangle than other people. And I 
should have put an end to that one then 
and there had they not pulled me away 
by the hair. After that, it was neces- 
sary to keep out of sight. And finally, 
when I found an opportunity, I left 
town and — ^here I am!" 

They congratulated her. She grew 
in the estimation of her companions, 
who had not shown themselves so hot- 
brained, and Cornudet, while listening 
to her, took on the approving, benevo- 
lent smile of an apostle, as a priest 
would if he heard a devotee praise God, 
for the long-bearded democrats have a 
monopoly of patriotism, as the men in 
cassocks have of religion. In his turn 
he spoke, in a doctrinal tone, with the 
emphasis of a proclamation such as we 
see pasted on the walls about town, 
and finished by a bit of eloquence 



BALL-OF-FAT 



11 



-jvhereby he gave that "scamp of a 
Badinguet" a good lashing. 

Then Ball-of-Fat was angry, for she 
was a Bonapartist. She grew redder 
than a cherry and, stammering with 
indignation, said: 

"I would like to have seen you in 
his place, you other people. Then 
everything would have been quite right; 
oh, yes! It is you who have betrayed 
this man! One would never have had 
to leave France if it had been governed 
by blackguards I'ke you!'* 

Cornudet, undisturbed, preserved a 
disdainful, superior smile, but all felt 
that the high note had been struck, until 
the Count, not without some difficulty, 
calmed the exasperated girl and pro- 
claimed with a manner of authority that 
all sincere opinions should be respected. 
But the Countess and the manufac- 
turer's wife, who had in their souls an 
unreasonable hatred for the people that 
favor a Republic, and the same instinct- 
ive tenderness that all women have for 
a decorative, despotic government, felt 
themselves drawn, in spite of them- 
selves, toward this prostitute so full of 
dignity, whose sentiments so strongly 
resembled their own. 

The basket was empty. By ten 
o'clock they had easily exhausted the 
contents and regretted that there was 
not more. Conversation continued for 
some time, but a little more coldly since 
they had finished eating. 

The night fell, the darkness little by 
little became profound, and the cold, 
felt more during digestion, made Ball- 
of-Fat shiver in spite of her plumpness. 
Then Madame de Breville offered her 
the little footstove, in which the fuel 
had been renewed many times since 



morning; she accepted it immediately, 
for her feet were becoming numb with 
cold. The ladies Carre-Lamadon and 
Loiseau gave theirs lo the two religious 
sisters. 

The driver had lighted his lanterns. 
They shone out with a lively glimmer 
showing a cloud of foam beyond, the 
sweat of the horses; and, on both sides 
of the way, the snow seemed to roll 
itself along under the moving reflection 
of the lights. 

Inside the carriage one could distin- 
guish nothing. But a sudden movement 
seemed to be made between Ball-of-Fat 
and Cornudet; and Loiseau, whose eye 
penetrated the shadow, believed that he 
saw the big-bearded man start back 
quickly as if he had received a swift, 
noiseless blow. 

Then some twinkling points of fire 
appeared in the distance along the road. 
It was Totes. They had traveled eleven 
hours, which, with the two hours given 
to resting and feeding the horses, made 
thirteen. They entered the town and 
stopped before the Hotel of Commerce. 

The carriage door opened! A well- 
known sound gave the travelers a start; 
it was the scabbard of a sword hitting 
the ground. Immediately a German 
voice was heard in the darkness. 

Although the diligence was not mov- 
ing, no one offered to alight, fearing 
some one might be waiting to murder 
them as they stepped out. Then the 
conductor appeared, holding in his hand 
one of the lanterns which lighted the 
carriage to its depth, and showed ths 
two rows of frightened taces, wnosv' 
mouths were open and whose eyes were 
v/ide with surprise and fear. 

Outside beside the driver, in plair 



12 



WORKS OF GTJY DE MAUPASSANT 



sight, stood a German officer, an ex- 
cessively tail young man, thin and blond, 
squeezed into his uniform like a girl 
in a corset, and wearing on his head 
a flat, oilcloth cap which made him 
resemble the porter of an English hotel. 
His enormous mustache, of long straight 
hairs, growing gradually thin at each 
side and terminating in a single blond 
thread so fine that one could not per- 
ceive where it ended, seemed to weigh 
heavily on the corners of his mouth and, 
drawing down the cheeks, left a decided 
wrinkle about the lips. 

In Alsatian French, he invited the 
travelers to come in, saying in a suave 
tone: "Will you descend, gentlemen 
and ladies?" 

The two good sisters were the first 
to obey, with the docility of saints 
accustomed ever to submission. The 
Count and Countess then appeared, fol- 
lowed by the manufacturer and his wife; 
then Loiseau, pushing ahead of him 
his larger half. The last-named, as he 
set foot on the earth, said to the officer: 
"Good evening, sir," more as a mea- 
sure of prudence than politeness. The 
officer, insolent as all powerful people 
usually are, looked at him without a 
word. 

Ball-of-Fat and Comudet, although 
nearest the door, were the last to de- 
scend, grave and haughty before the 
enemy. The fat giil tried to control 
herself and be calm. The democrat 
waved a tragic hand and his long beard 
seemed to tremble a little and grow 
redder. They wished to preserve their 
dignity, comprehending that in such 
meetings as these they represented in 
some degree their great country, and 
somewhat disgusted with the docility of 



her companions, the fat girl tried tn 
show more pride than her neighbcis, 
the honest women, and, as she felt that 
some one should set an example, she 
continued her attitude of resistance as- 
sumed at the beginning of the journey. 

They entered the vast kitchen of the 
inn, and the German, having demanded 
their traveling papers signed by the 
General-in-chief (in which the name, the 
description, and profession of each 
traveler was mentioned), and having ex- 
amined them all critically, comparing 
the people and their signatures, said: 
"It is quite right," and went out. 

Then they breathed. They were still 
hungry and supper was ordered. A half 
hour was necessary to prepare it, and 
while two servants were attending to 
this they went to their rooms. They 
found them along a corridor which 
terminated in a large glazed door. 

Finally, they sat down at table, when 
the proprietor of the inn himself ap- 
peared. He was a former horse mer- 
chant, a large, asthmatic man, with a 
constant wheezing and rattling in his 
throat. His father had kft him the 
name of Follenvie. He asked: 

"Is Miss Elizabeth Rousset here?" 

Ball-of-Fat started as she answered: 
"It is I." 

"The Prussian officer wishes to speak 
with you immediately." 

"With me?" 

"Yes, that is, if you are Miss Eliza- 
beth Rousset." 

She was disturbed, and reflecting for 
an instant, declared flatly: 

"That is my name, but I shall not 
go." 

A stir was felt around her; each dis- 
cussed and tried to think of the causfi 



BALL-OF-FAT 



«d 



if this order. The Count approached 
Aer, saying: 

* You aie wrong, Madame, for your 
fefusal may lead to considerable difTi- 
culty, not only for yourself, but for all 
your companions. It is never worth 
while to resist those in power. This re- 
quest cannot assuredly bring any dan- 
ger; it is, without doubt, about some 
forgotten formality." 

Everybody agreed with Iiim, asking, 
begging, beseeching her to go, and at 
last they convinced her that it was best ; 
they all feared the complications that 
might result from disobedience. She 
finally said: 

'It is for you that I do this, you 
understand." 

The Countess took her by the hand, 
saying: "And we are grateful to you 
for it." 

She went out. They waited before 
sitting down at table. 

Each one regretted not having been 
sent for in the place of this violent, 
irascible girl, and mentally prepared 
some platitudes, in case they should be 
called in their turn. 

But at the end of ten minutes she 
reappeared, out of breath, red to suffo- 
cation, and exasperated. She stam- 
mered: "Oh! the rascal; the rascal!" 

All gathered around to learn some- 
thing, but she said nothing; and when 
the Count insisted, she responded with 
great dignity: "No, it does not concern 
you; I can say nothing." 

Then they all seated themselves 
around a high soup tureen, whence came 
the odor of cabbage. In spite of alarm, 
the suDDer was gay. The cider was 
?ood, the beverage Loiseau and the 
good sisters took as a means of econ- 



omy. The others called for wine; 
Cornudet demanded beer. He had a 
ipecial fashion of uncorking the bottle, 
making froth on the liquid, carefully 
filling the glass and then holding it be- 
fore the light to better appreciate the 
color. When he drank, his great beard, 
which still kept some of the foam of 
his beloved beverage, seemed to tremble 
with tenderness; his eyes were squinted, 
in order not to lose sight of his tipple, 
and he had the unique air of fulfilling 
the function for which he was born 
One would say that there was in his 
mind a meeting, like that of aHinities, 
between the two great passions that 
occupied his life — Pale Ale and Revolu- 
tions; and assuredly he could not taste 
the one without thinking of the other. 

Mr. and Mrs. Follenvie dined at the 
end of the table. The man, rattlmg 
like a cracked locomotive, had too much 
trouble in breathing to talk while eat- 
ing, but his wife was never silent. She 
told all her impressions at the arrival 
of the Prussians, what they did, what 
they said, reviling then because they 
cost her some money, and because she 
had two sons in the army. She ad* 
dressed herself especially to the Count- 
ess, flattered by being able to talk 
with a lady of quality. 

When she lowered her voice to say 
some delicate thing, her husband would 
interrupt, from time to time, with: 
"You had better keep silent, Madame 
Follenvie." But she paid no attention, 
continuing in this fashion: 

"Yes, Madame, those people there not 
-only eat our potatoes and pork, but our 
pork and potatoes. And it must not be 
believed that they are at all proper-^ 
oh, do! such filthy things they dOr sav*. 



14 



WORKS OF GUY D£ MAUPASSA^^ 



ing the respect I owe to you! And 
if you could see them exercise for hours 
in the day! they are all there in the 
field, marching ahead, then marching 
back, turning here and turning there. 
They might be cultivating the land, or 
at least working on the roads of their 
own country! But no, Madame, these 
military men are profitable to no one. 
Poor people have to feed them, or per- 
haps be murdered! I am only an old 
woman without education, it is true, but 
when I see some endangering their con- 
stitutions by raging from morning to 
night, I say: "When there are so many 
geople found to be useless, how un- 
necessary it is for others to take so 
much trouble to be nuisances! Truly, 
is it not an abomination to kill people, 
whether they be Prussian, or English, 
or Polish, or French? If one man 
revenges himself upon another who has 
done him some injury, it is wicked and 
he is punished; but when they exter- 
minate our boys, as if they were game, 
with guns, they give decorations, in- 
deed, to the one who destroys the most! 
Now, you see, I can never understand 
that, never!" 

Cornudet raised his voice: "War is 
a barbarity when one attacks a peace- 
able neighbor, but a sacred duty when 
one defends his country." 

The old woman lowered her head: 

"Yes, when one defends himself, it 
is another thing; but why not make it 
a duty to kill all the kings who make 
these wars for their pleasure?" 

Cornudet's eyes flashed. "Bravo, my 
country-woman!" said he. 

Mr. Carre-Lamadon reflected pro- 
foundly. Although he was prejudiced 
as a Captain of Industry, the good sense 



of this peasant woman made him think 
of the opulence that would be brought 
into the country were the idle and con- 
sequently mischievous hands, and the 
troops which were now maintained in 
unproductiveness, employed In. some 
great industrial work that it would re- 
quire centuries to achieve. 

Loiseau, leaving his place, went to 
speak with the innkeeper in a low tone 
of voice. The great man laughed, 
shook, and squeaked, his corpulence 
quivered with joy at the jokes of his 
neighbor, and he bought of him six 
cases of wine for spring, after the Prus- 
sians had gone. 

As soon as supper was finished, as 
they were worn out with fatigue, they 
retired. 

However, Loiseau, who had observed 
things, after getting his wife to bed, 
glued his eye and then his ear to a hole 
in the wall, to try and discover what are 
known as "the mysteries of the cor- 
ridor." 

At the end of about an hour, he 
heard a groping, and, looking quickly, he 
perceived Ball-of-Fat, who appeared still 
more plump in a blue cashmere negli- 
gee trimmed with white lace. She had 
a candle in her hand and was directing 
her steps toward the great door at the 
end of the corridor. But a door at the 
side opened, and when she returned at 
the end cf some minutes Cornudet, in 
his suspenders, followed her. They 
spoke low, then they stopped. Ball-of' 
Fat seemed to be defending the en- 
trance to her room with energy. 
Loiseau, unfortunately, could not hear 
all their words, but finally, as they 
raised their voices, he was able to catch 



BALL-OF-FAT 



IS 



a few. Cornudet insrsted with vivacity. 
He said: 

"Come, now, you are a silly woman; 
what harm can be done?" 

She had an indignant air in respond- 
ing: "No, my dear, there are moments 
when such things are out of place. 
Here it would be a shame." 

He doubtless did not comprehend and 
asked why. Then she crid out, raising 
her voice still more : 

"Why? you do not see why? When 
there are Prussians in the house, in the 
very next room, perhaps?" 

He was silent. This patriotic shame 
01 the harlot, who would not suffer his 
caress so near the enemy, must have 
awakened the latent dignity in his heart, 
for after simply kissing her, he went 
back to his own door with a bound. 

Loiseau, much excited, left the aper- 
ture, cut a caper in his room, put on 
his pajamas, turned back the clothes 
that covered the bony carcass of his 
companion, whom he awakened with a 
kiss, murmuring: "Do you love me, 
dearie?" 

Then all the house was still. And 
Immediately there arose somewhere, 
from an uncertain quarter, which might 
be the cellar but was quite as likely to 
be the garret, a powerful snoring, 
monotonous and regular, a heavy, pro- 
longed sound, like a great kettle under 
pressure. Mr. Follenvie was asleep. 

As they had decided that they would 
set out at eight o'clock the next morn- 
ing, they all collected in the kitchen. 
But the carriage, the roof of which 
was covered with snow, stood undis- 
turbed in the courtyard, without horses 
and without a conductor. They sought 
bkn in vain in the stables, in the hay, 



and in the coach-house. Then they re- 
solved to scour the town, and started 
out. They found themselves in a 
square, with a church at one end and 
some low houses on either side, where 
they perceived some Prussian soldiers. 
The first one they saw was paring po- 
tatoes. The second, further off, was 
cleaning the hairdresser's shop. An- 
other, bearded to the eyes, was tending 
a troublesome brat, cradling it and try- 
ing to appease it; and the great peasant 
women, whose husbands were "away in 
the army," indicated by signs to their 
obedient conquerors the work they 
wished to have done: cutting wood, 
cooking the soup, grinding the coffee, 
or what not. One of them even washed 
the linen of his hostess, an impotent 
old grandmother. 

The Count, astonished, asked ques- 
tions of the beadle who came out of 
the rectory. The old man responded: 

"Oh! those men are not wicked; they 
are not the Prussians we hear about. 
They are from far off, I know not 
where; and they have left wives and 
children in their country; it is not 
amuiing to them, this war, I can tell 
you! I am sure they also weep for 
their homes, and that it makes as much 
sorrow among them as it does among 
us. Here, now, there is not so much 
unhappiness for the moment, because 
the soldiers do no harm and they work 
as if they were in their own homes. 
You see, sir, among poor people it iv<« 
necessary that thev aid one another. 
These are the great traits which war 
develops." 

Cornudet, indignant at the cordial re- 
lations between the conquerors and the 
conquered, preferred to shut himself up 



16 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



in the inn. Loiseau had a joke for the 
occasion: "They will repeople the 
land." 

Mr. Carre-Lamadon had a serious 
word: "They try to make amends." 

But thijy did not find the driver. 
Finally, they discovered him in a caj6 
of the village, sitting at table fraternally 
with the officer of ordinance. The 
Count called out to him: 

"Were ycu not ordered to be ready 
at eight o'clock?" 

"Well, yes; but another order has 
been given me since." 

"By whom?" 

"Faith! the Prussian commander." 

"What was it?" 

"Not to harness at all." 

"Why?" 

**I know nothing about it. Go and 
ask him. They tell me not to harness, 
ana I don't harness. That's all." 

"Did he give you the order himself?'* 

"No, sir, the innkeeper gave the order 
for him." 

**When was that?" 

"Last evening, as I was going to 
bed." 

The three men returned, much dis- 
turbed. They asked for Mr. FoUenvie, 
but the servant answered that that 
gentleman, because of his asthma, 
never rose before ten o'clock. And he 
had given strict orders not to be 
wakened before that, except in case of 
fire. 

They wished to see the officer, but 
that was absolutely impossible, since, 
while he lodged at the inn, Mr. FoUenvie 
alone was authorized to speak to him 
Upon civil affairs. So they waited. The 
women went up to their rooms again 



and occupied themselves with futile 
tasks. 

Comudet installed himself near the 
great chimney in the kitcl ^n, where 
there was a good fire bu aing. He 
ordered one of the little .ajles to be 
brought from the caf6, then a can of 
beer, he then drew out his pipe, which 
plays among democrats a pr.rt almost 
equal to his own, because in serving 
Comudet it Tas serving its country. It 
was «4 superb pipe, an admirably colored 
meerschaum, as black as the teeth of its 
master, but perfumed, curved, glisten- 
ing, easy to the hand, completing his 
physiognomy. And he remained mo- 
tionless, his eyes as much fixed upon 
the flame of the fire as upon his favorite 
tipple and its frothy crown; and each 
time that he drank, he passed his long, 
thin fingers through his scanty, gray 
hair, with an air of satisfaction, after 
which he sucked in his mustache fringed 
with foam. 

Loiseau, under the pretext of stretch- 
ing his legs, went to place some wine 
among the retailers of the country. Thd 
Count and the manufacturer began to 
talk politics. They could foresee the 
future of France. One of them believee 
in an Orleans, the other in some un- 
known savior for the country, a hero 
who would reveal himself when all were 
in despair: a Guesclin, or a Joan of 
Arc, perhaps, or would it be anothef 
Napoleon First? Ah! if the Prince 
Imperial were not so young! 

Comudet listened to them and smilecj 
like one who holds the word of destiny. 
His pipe perfumed the kitchen. 

As ten o'clock struck, Mr. Follenvifl 
appeared. They asked him hurried 
questions; but he could only repeat two , 



BALL-OF-FAT 



17 



or three times without variation, these 
wcrds ; 

"The officer said to me: 'Mr. Follen- 
vie, you see to it that the carriage is 
not harnessed for those travelers to- 
morrow. I do not wish them to leave 
without my order. That is sufficient." 

Then they wished to see the officer. 
The Count sent him his card, on which 
Mr. Carre-Lamadon wrote his name and 
all his titles. The Prussian sent back 
word that he would meet the two gentle- 
men a/ter he had breakfasted, that is 
to say, about one o'clock. 

The ladies reappeared and ate a little 
something, despite their disquiet. Ball- 
of-Fat seemed ill and prodigiously 
troubled. 

They were finishing their coffee when 
the word came that the officer was 
ready to meet the gentlemen. Loiseau 
joined them; but when they tried to 
enlist Cornudet, to give more solemnity 
to their proceedings, he declared 
proudly that he would have nothing 
to do with the Germans; and he be- 
took himself to his chimney corner and 
ordered another liter of beer. 

The three men mounted the staircase 
and were introduced to the best room 
of the inn, where the officer received 
them, stretched out in an armchair, his 
feet on the mantelpiece, smoking 3 
long, porcelain pipe, and enveloped in 
a flamboyant dressing-gown, appro- 
priated, without doubt, from some 
dwelling belonging to a common citizen 
of bad taste. He did not rise, nor greet 
them in any way, not even looking at 
them. It was a magnificent display of 
natural blackguardism transformed into 
the military \'ictor. 

At the expiration of some moments. 



he asked: "What is it you wish?" 

The Count became spokesman: 
"We desire to go on our way, sir." 

"No." 

"May I ask the cause of this re- 
fusal?" 

"Because I do not wish it." 

"But, I would respectfully observe to 
you, sir, that your General-in-chief 
gave us permission to go to Dieppe; 
and I know of nothing we have done to 
merit your severity." 

"I do not wish it — that is all; you 
can go." 

All three having bowed, retired. 

The afternoon was lamentable. They 
could not understand this caprice of the 
German; and the most singular ideas 
would come into their heads to trouble 
them. Everybody stayed in the kitchen 
and discussed the situation endlessly, 
imagining all sorts of unlikely things. 
Perhaps they would be retained as 
hostages — ^but to what end? — or taken 
prisoners — or rather a considerable 
ransom might be dem.anded. At this 
thought a panic prevailed. The richest 
were the most frightened, already see- 
ing themselves constrained to pay for 
their lives with sacks of gold poured 
into the hands of this insolent soldier. 
They racked their brains to think of 
some acceptable falsehoods to conceal 
their riches and make them pass them- 
selves off for poor people, very poor 
people, Loiseau took off the chain to 
his watch and hid it away in his pocket. 
The failing night increased their ap- 
prehensions. The lamp was lighted, 
and as there was still two hours before 
dinner, Madame Loiseau proposed a 
game of Thirty-one. It would be a 
diversion. They accepted. Cornudet 



18 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



himself, having smoked out Ks pipe, 
tooK part for politeness. 

The Count shuffled the cards, dealt, 
and Ball-of-Fat had thirty-one at the 
outset; and immediately the interest 
was great enough to appease the fear 
that haunted tiieir minds. Then Cornu- 
det perceived that the house of Loiseau 
was given to tricks. 

As they were going to the dinner 
table, Mr. Folienvie again appeared, 
and, in wheezing, rattling voice, an- 
nounced : 

"The Prussian officer orders me to 
ask Miss Elizabeth Rousset if she has 
yet changed her mmd." 

Ball-oi-Fat remained standing and 
was pale; then suddenly becoming 
crimson, such a stifling anger took pos- 
session cf her that she could not speak. 
But finally she flashed out: "You may 
say to the dirty beast, that idiot, that 
carrioii of a Prussian, that I shall never 
change it; you understand, never, 
never, never!" 

The great innkeeper went cu*:. Then 
Ball-cf-Fat was immediately sur- 
rounded, cuestioned, and solicited by all 
to disclose the mystery of his visit. 
She resisted, at first, but soon becom- 
ing exasperated, she said: "What does 
be want? Ycu really want to know 
whet he wants? He wants to sleep with 
me." 

Everybody was choked for words, 
and indignation was rife. Cornudet 
broke his glass, so violently did he 
bring his fist down upon the table. 
There was a clamor of censure against 
this ignoble sold'er, a blast of anger, 
a union of all for resistance, as if a 
demand had been made on each one of 
the party for the sacrifice exacted of 



her. The Count declared with disgust 
that those people conducted themselves 
after the fashion of the ancient bar* 
barians. The women, especially, 
showed to Ball-of-Fat a most energetic 
and tender commiseration. The good 
sisters who only showed themselves at 
mealtime, lowered their heads and said 
nothing. 

They all dined, nevertheless, when 
the first furore had abated. But there 
v/as little conversation; they werci 
thinking. 

The ladies retired early, and the men, 
all smoking, organized a gam^ at cards 
to which Mr. Fcilenvie was invited, 
as they intended to put a few casual 
questions to him on the subject of con- 
quering the resistance of this officer. 
But he thought of nothing but the cards 
and, without listening or answering, 
would keep repeating: "To th'^ game, 
sirs, to the game." His attention was 
ro taken that he even forgot to ex- 
pectorate, which must have put hiro 
some points to the good with the organ 
in his breast. His v/h!stling lungs ran 
Ihe whole asthmatic scale, from deep, 
profound tones to the sharp rustiness o? 
a young cock essaying to crow. 

He even refused to retire when his 
wife, who had fallen asleep previously, 
came to look for him. She went away 
alone, for che was an "early bird,** 
always up with the sun, while her hus- 
band was a "night owl," always ready 
to pass the night with his friends. He 
cried out to her: "Leave my creamed 
chicken before the fire!" and then went 
on with his game. When they saw 
that they could get nothing from him, 
they declared that it was time to stop^ 
and each sought his bed. 



BALL-OF-FAT 



19 



They all rose rather early the next 
day, With an undefined hope of getting 
away, which desire the terror of pass- 
ing another day in that horrible inn 
greatly increased. 

Alas! the horses remained in the 
stable and the driver was invisible. 
For want cf better employment, they 
went out and walked around the car- 
riage. 

The breakfast was very doleful; and 
it became apparent that a coldness had 
arisen toward Ball-of-Fat, and that th3 
night, which brings counsel, had sl'ghtly 
modified their judgments. They almost 
wished now that the Prussian had 
secretly found this girl, in order to 
give her companions a pleasant surprise 
in the morning. What could b3 more 
simple? Besides, who would know 
anything about it? She could save ap- 
pearances by teJling the officer that she 
took pity on their distress. To her, it 
wculd malic so little difference! 

No one had avowed these thoughts 

yet. 

In the afternoon, as they were al- 
most perishing from ennui, the Count 
proposed that they take a walk around 
the villar;?. Each wrapped u:> warmly 
and the I't'.le party set cut, w^'th the 
exception cf Cornudet, who preferred 
to remain near the fire, and the good 
sisters, v;ho pissed their time in the 
church cr at the curate's. 

The cold, growing more intense every 
day, cruelly pinched their noses and 
ears; their feet became so numb that 
each step was torture; and when they 
came to a field it seemed to them 
frightfully sad under this limitless 
white, so that everybody returned im- 



mediately, with hearts hard pressed and 
souls congealed. 

The four women walked ahead, the 
three gentlemen followed just behind. 
Loiseau, who understood the situation, 
asked suddenly if they thought that 
girl there was going to keep them long 
in such a place as this. The Count, 
always courteous, said that they could 
not exact from a woman a sacrifice so 
hard, unless it should come of her own 
will. Mr. Carrc-Lamadon remarked 
that if the French made their return 
through Dieppe, as they v/erc likely to, 
a battle would surely take piace at 
Totes. This reflection made the two 
others anxious. 

"If we could only get away on foot," 
said Loiseau. 

The Count shrugged his shoulders: 
"How ran we think cf it in this snow? 
and with our wives?'" he said. "And 
then, we should be pursued and caught 
in ten minutes and led back prisoners 
at the mercy of these soldiers." 

It was true, and they were silent. 

The ladies talked of their clothes, but 
a certain constraint seemed to disunit': 
them. Suddenly at the end cf the 
street, the officer appeared. His tall, 
wasp-like figure in uniform was out- 
lined upon the horizon formed by the 
snow, and he was marching with knees 
apart, a gait particularly military, v/hich 
is affected that they may not spot their 
carefully blackened boots. 

He bowed in passing near the ladies 
and looked disdai-^furiy at the men. 
who preserved their dignity by not see- 
ing him, except Lo'seau, who made a 
motion toward raising his hat. 

Ball-of-Fat reddened to the ears, and 
the three married women resented th<i 



20 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



great humiliation of being thus met by 
this soldier in the company of this girl 
whom he had treated so cavalierly. 

But they spoke of him, of his figure 
and his face. Madame Carre-La madon 
who had known many officers and con- 
sidered herself a connoisseur of them, 
found this one not at all bad; she re- 
gretted even that he was not French, 
because he would make such a pretty 
hussar, one all the women would rave 
over. 

Again in the house, no one knew 
what to do. Some sharp words, even, 
were said about things very insignif- 
icant. The dinner was silent, and al- 
most immediately after it, each one 
went to his room to kill time in sleep. 

They descended the next morning 
with weary faces and exasperated 
hearts. The women scarcely spoke to 
Ball-of-Fat. 

A bell began to ring. It was for a 
baptism. The fat girl had a child 
being brought up among the peasants of 
Vvetot. She had not seen it for a 
year, or thought of it; but now the idea 
of a child being baptized threw into 
her heart a sudden and violent tender- 
ness for her own, and she strongly 
wished to be present at the ceremony. 

As soon as she was gone, everybody 
looked at each other, then pulled their 
chairs together, for they thought that 
finally something should be decided 
upon. Loiseau had an inspiration: it 
was to hold Ball-of-Fat alone and let 
the others go. 

Mr. FdTlenvie was charged with the 
commission, but he returned almost im- 
mediately, for the German, who under- 
stood human nature, had put him out. 
He pretended that he would retain 



everybody so long as his desire was not 
satisfied. 

Then the commonplace nature of 
Mrs. Loiseau burst out with: 

"Well, we are not going to stay here 
to die of old age. Since it is the trade 
of this creature to accommodate herself 
to all kinds, I fail to see how she has 
the right to refuse one more than an- 
other. I can tell you she has received 
all she could find in Rouen, even the 
coachmen! Yes, Madame, the pre- 
fect's coachman! I know him very 
well, for he bought his wine at our 
house. And to think that to-day we 
should be drawn into this embarrass- 
ment by this affected woman, this 
miiix! For my part, I find that this 
officer conducts himself very well. He 
has perhaps suffered privations for a 
long time; and doubtless he would have 
preferred us three; but no, he is con- 
tented with common property. He re- 
spects married women. And we must 
remember too that he is master. He 
has only to say 'I wish,' and he could 
take us by force with his soldiers." 

The two women had a cold shiver. 
Pretty Mrs. Carre-Lamadon's eyes grew 
brilliant and she became a little pale, 
as if she saw herself already taken by 
force by the officer. 

The men met and discussed the situa- 
tion. Loiseau, furious, was for de- 
livering "the wretch" bound hand and 
foot to the enemy. But the Count, 
descended through three generations of 
ambassadors, and endowed with the 
temperament of a diplomatist, was the 
advocate of ingenuity. 

"It is best to decide upon some- 
thing," said he. Then they conspired 

The women kept together, the tone 



BALL-OF-FAT 



ll 



#f their voices was lowered, each gave 
advice and the discussion was general. 
Everything was very hannonious. The 
ladies especially found delicate shades 
and charming subtleties of expression 
for saying the most unusual things. A 
stranger would have understood nothing-, 
so great was the precaution of lan- 
guage observed. But the light edge of 
modesty, with which every woman of 
the world is barbed, only covers the 
mrface; they blossom out in a scandal- 
ous adventure of this kind, being deeply 
eimused and feeling themselves in their 
clement, mixing love with sensuality as 
a greedy cook prepares supper for his 
master. 

Even gaiety returned; so funny did 
the whole story seem to them at last. 
The Count found some of the jokes a 
little off color, but they were so well 
told that he was forced to smile. In 
his turn, Loiseau came out with some 
still bolder tales, and yet nobody was 
wounded. The brutal thought, ex- 
pressed by his wife, dominated all 
minds: "Since it is her trade, why 
should she refuse this one more than 
another?" The genteel Mrs. Carre- 
Lamadon seemed to think that in her 
place, she would refu^.e this one less 
than some others. 

They prepared the blockade at length, 
as if they were about to surround a 
fortress. Each took some role to play, 
some arguments he would bring to bear, 
some maneuvers that he would en- 
deavor to put into execution. They 
decided on the plan of attack, the ruse 
to employ, the surprise of assault, that 
should force this living citadel to re- 
ceive the enemy in her room. 

Comudet remained apart from the 



rest, and was a stranger to the whole 

affair. 

So entirely were their minds dis- 
tracted that they did not hear Ball-of- 
Fat enter. The Count uttered a light 
"Ssh!" which turned all eyes in her 
direction. There she was. The abrupt 
silence and a certain embarrassment 
hindered them from speaking to her at 
first. The Countess, more accustomed 
to the duplicity of society than the 
others, finally inquired : 

"Was it very amusing, that baptism?" 

The fat girl, filled with emotion, told 
them all about it, the faces, the atti- 
tudes, and even the appearance of the 
church. She added : "It is good to pray 
sometimes." 

And up to the time for luncheon 
these ladies continued to be amiable 
toward her, in order to increase her 
docility and her confidence in their 
counsel. At the table they commenced 
the approach. This was in the shape 
01 a vague conversation upon devotion. 
They cited ancient examples: Judith 
and Holophernes, then, without reason, 
Lucrece and Sextus, and Cleopatra 
obliging all the generals of the enemy 
to pass by her couch and reducing them 
in servility to slaves. Then they 
brought out a fantastic story, hatched 
in the imagination of these ignorant 
millionaires, where the women of Rome 
went to Capua for the purpose of lulling 
Hannibal to sleep in their arms, and his 
lieutenants and phalanxes of mercena- 
ries as well. They cited all the women 
who have been taken by conquering 
armies, making a battlefield of their 
bodies, making them also a weapon, and 
a means of success; and all those hid- 
eous and detestable beings who have 



22 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



conquered by their heroic caresses, and 
sacnhced their chastity to vengeance or 
a beloved cause. They even spoke in 
veiled terms of that great English fam- 
ily which allowed one of its women 
to be inoculated with a horrible and 
contagious disease in order to transmit 
it to Bonaparte, who was miraculously 
saved by a sudden illness at the hour 
of the fatal rendezvous. 

And all this was related in an agree- 
able, temperate fashion, except as it 
was enlivened by the enthusiasm 
deemed proper to excite emulation. 

One might finally have believed that 
the sole duty of woman here below was 
a sacrifice of her person, and a con- 
tinual abandonment to soldierly ca- 
prices. 

The two good sisters seemed not to 
Lear, lost as they were in profound 
thoujjht. Ball-of-Fat said nothing. 

During the whole afternoon they let 
her reflect. But, in the place of calling 
her "Madame" as they had up to this 
time, they simply called her "Made- 
moiselle" without knowing exactly whv, 
as if they had a desire to put her down 
a degree in their esteem, which she had 
taken by storm, and make her feel her 
shameful situation. 

The moment supper was served. Mr. 
Follenvie appeared with his old phrase: 
"The Prussian officer orders me to ask 
if Miss Elizabeth Rousset has yet 
changed her mind." 

Ball-of-Fat resDonded dryly: "No, 
sir." 

But at d^'nner the coalition weakened. 
Loiseau m^^^e three mhappy remarks. 
Each one beat his wits for new examples 
but found nothinsr: when the Countess, 
witbont premedhation, perhaps feeling 



some vague need of rendering homage 
to religion, asked the elder of the good 
sisters lo teil them some grjat deeds 
in the lives of the samus. it appeared 
that many of their acts would have been 
considered crimes in cur eyes; but th'^ 
Church gave absolution of them readily, 
since they were done for the glory of 
God, or for the good of all. It was a 
powerful argument; the Countess made 
the most of it. 

Thus it may be by one of those tacit 
understandings, or the veiled compla- 
cency in which anyone who wears the 
ecclesiastical garb excels, it may be 
simply from the effect of a happy un- 
intelligence, a helpful stupidity, but in 
fact the religious sister lent a formid- 
able support to the conspiracy. They 
had thought her timid, but she showed 
herself courageous, verbose, even 
violent. She was not troubled by the 
chatter of the casuist; her doctrine 
seemed a bar of iron; her faith never 
hesitated; her co-^science had no 
scruples. She found the sacrifice of 
Abraham perfectly simple, for she 
would immediately kill father or mother, 
on an order from on high. And noth* 
ing, in her opinion, could displease the 
Lord, if the intention was laudable. The 
Countess put to use the authority of her 
unwitting accomplice, and added to it 
the edifying paraohrase and axiom of 
Jesuit morals: "The need justifies the 
means." 

Then she asked her: "Then, my sis- 
ter, do you think that God accepts in- 
tentions, and pardons the deed when 
the motive is Dure?" 

"Who could doubt it, Madame? An 
action blamable in itself often becoma? 



BALL-OF-FAT 



23 



meritorious by the thougnt it springs 
from." 

And they continued thus, unraveling 
the will of God, foreseeing his decisions, 
making themselves interested in things 
that, in truth, they would never think 
of noticing. All this was guarded, skill- 
ful, discreet. But each word of the 
saintly sister in a cap helped to break 
down the resistance of the unworthy 
courtesan. Then the conversation 
changed a little, the woman of the 
chaplet speaking of the houses of her 
order, of h^r Supericr, of herself, of her 
dainty neighbor, the dear sister Saint- 
Nicephore. They had been called to 
the hospitals of Havre to care for the 
hundreds of soldiers stricken with 
siTiallpcx. They depicted these misera- 
ble creatures, giving details of the 
malady. And while they were stopped, 
en route, by the caprice of this Prussian 
officer, a great number of Frenchmen 
might die, whom perhaps they could 
have saved! It was a specialty with 
her, caring for soldiers. She had been 
in Crimea, in Italy, in Austria, and, in 
telling of her campaigns, she revealed 
herself as one of those religious aids to 
drums and trumpets, who seen made 
to follow camps, pick up the wounded 
in the thick of battle, and, better than 
an officer, subdue with a word great 
bands of undisciplined recruits. A 
true, good sister of the rataplan, whose 
ravaged face, marked with innumerable 
scars, appeared the image of the devas- 
tation of war. 

No one could speak after her, so ex- 
cellent seemed the effect cf her words. 

As soon as the repast was ended they 
quicklv went UD to their rooms, with 



the purpose of not coming down the 
next day until late in the mornii.g. 

The luncheon was quiet. Th^y had 
given the grain of seed time to ger- 
minate and bear fruit. The Countess 
proposed that they take a walk in the 
afternoon. The Count, being agree- 
ably inclined, gave an arm to Ball-of- 
Fat and walked behind the others with 
her. He talked to her in a familiar, 
paternal tone, a httle disdainful, after 
the manner cf men having girls in their 
employ, calling her "my dear child,*' 
from the height of his social position, of 
his undisputed honor. He reached the 
vital part of the question at once: 

"Then you prefer to leave us here, 
exposed to the violences which follow 
a defeat, rather than consent t-^ a fa- 
vor which you have so often given id 
your life?" 

Ball-of-Fat answered nothing. 

Then he tried to reach her through 
gentleness, reason, and then the senti- 
ments. He knew how ti remain "The 
Count," even while showing himself 
gallant or complimentary, or very ami- 
able if it became necessary. He ex- 
nlted the service that she would ren- 
der them, and s::)oke of her apprecia- 
tion; then suddenly became gaily 
familiar, and said: 

"And you know, my dear, it would 
be something for him to boast of that 
he had known a pretty girl: something 
it is difficult to find in his countr^^" 

Ball-of-Fat did not answer b'lt joined 
the rest of the partv. As roon as they 
entered the house sh^ wc^t to her room 
and did not appear again. The disquiet 
was extreme. What were thev to do?" 
If she continued to resist, what an em- 
barrassment! 



24 



WORKjS of guy DE MAUPASSANT 



The dinner hour struck. They 
waited in vain. Mr. Follenvie finally 
entered and said that Miss Rousset was 
indisposed, and would not be at the 
table. Everybody pricked up his ears. 
The Count went to the innkeeper and 
said in a low voice: 

"Is he in there?" 

"Yes." 

For convenience, he said nothing to 
his companions, but made a slight sign 
with his head. Immediately a great sigh 
of relief went up from every breast and 
a light appeared in their faces. Loiseau 
cried out: 

"Holy Christopher 1 I pay for the 
champagne, if there is any to be found 
in the establishment." And Mrs. 
Loiseau was pained to see the pro- 
prietor return with four quart bottles in 
his hands. 

Each one had suddenly become com- 
municative and buoyant. A wanton joy 
filled their hearts. The Count suddenly 
perceived that Mrs. Carre-Lamadon 
was charming, the manufacturer paid 
compliments to the Countess. The con- 
versation was lively, gay, full of 
touches. 

Suddenly Loiseau, with anxious face 
and hand upraised, called out: 
"Silence!" Everybody was silent, sur- 
prised, already frightened. Then he 
listened intently and said: "S-s-sh!" his 
two eyes and his hands raised toward 
the ceiling, listening, and then continu- 
ing, in his natural voice : "All right! 
All goes well!" 

They failed to comprehend at first, 
but soon all laughed. At the end of a 
quarter of an hour he began the same 
farce again, renewing it occasionally 
during ^he whole afternoon. And he 



pretended to call to some one in the 
story above, giving him advice in a 
double meaning, drawn from the foun- 
tain-head — the mind of a commercial 
traveler. For some moments he would 
assume a sad air, breathing in a whis- 
per: "Poor girl!" Then he would mur- 
mur between his teeth, with an appear- 
ance of rage: "Ugh! That scamp of a 
Prussian." Sometimes, at a moment 
when no more was thought about it, 
he would say, in an affected voice, many 
times over: "Enough! enough!" and 
add, as if speaking to himself. "If we 
could only see her again, it isn't neces- 
sary that he should kill her, the 
wretch!" 

Although these jokes were in deplor- 
able taste, they amused all and 
wounded no one, for indignation, like 
other things, depends upon its surround- 
ings, and the atmosphere which had 
been gradually created around them 
was charged with sensual thoughts. 

At the dessert the women themselves 
made some delicate and discreet allu- 
sions. Their eyes glistened; they had 
drunk much. The Count, who pre^ 
served, even in his flights, his grand ap- 
pearance of gravity, made a compari- 
son, much relished, upon the subject of 
those wintering at the pole, and the joy 
of ship-wrecked sailors who saw an 
opening toward the south. 

Loiseau suddenly arose, a glass of 
champagne in his hand, and said: "I 
drink to our deliverance." Everybody 
was on his feet; they shouted in agree- 
ment. Even the two good sisters con- 
sented to touch their lips to the froth 
of the wine which they had never be- 
fore tasted. They declared that it 



BALL-OF-FAT 



25 



tasted like charged lemonade, only 
much nicer. 

Loiseau resumed* "It is unfortunate 
that we have no piano, for we might 
make up a quadrille." 

Cornudet had not said a word, nor 
made a gesture; he appeared plunged 
in very grave thoughts, and made 
sometimes a furious motion, so that his 
great beard seemed to wish to free it- 
self. Finally, toward midnight, as they 
were separating, Loiseau, who was stag- 
gering, touched him suddenly on the 
stomach and said to him in a stammer: 
"You are not very funny, this evening; 
you have said nothing, citizen!'* Then 
Cornudet raised his head brusquely and, 
casting a brilliant, terrible glance 
around the company, said: "I tell you 
all that you have been guilty of in- 
famy!" He rose, went to the door, and 
again repeated: "Infamy, I say!" and 
disappeared. 

This made a coldness at first. 
Loiseau, interlocutor, was stupefied; 
but he recovered immediately and 
laughed heartily as he said: "He is 
very green, my friends. He is very 
green." And then, as they did not com- 
prehend, he told them about the "mys- 
teries of the corridor." Then there was 
a return of gaiety. The women be- 
haved like lunatics. The Count and 
Mr. Carre-Lamadon wept from the 
force of their laughter. They could 
not believe it. 

"How is that? Are you sure?" 

"I tell you I saw it." 

"And she refused — " 

''Yes, because the Prussian officer 
was in the next room." 

"Impossible!" 

"I swear it!" 



The Count was stifled with laughter. 
The industrial gentleman held his sides 
with both hands. Loiseau continued: 

"And now you understand why he 
saw nothing funny this evening! No, 
nothing at all!" And the three started 
out half ill, suffocated. 

They separated. But Mrs. Loiseau, 
who was of a spiteful nature, remarked 
to her husband as they were getting 
into bed, that "that grisette" of a little 
Carre-Lamadon was yellow with envy 
all the evening. "You know," she con- 
tinued, "hcyw some women will take to 
a uniform, whether it be French or 
Prussian! It is all the same to them! 
Oh! what a pity!" 

And all night, in the darkness of the 
corridor, there were to be heard light 
noises, like whisperings and walking in 
bare feet, and imperceptible creakings. 
They did not go to sleep until late, 
that is sure, for there were threads of 
light shining under the doors for a long 
time. The champagne had its effect; 
they say it troubles sleep. 

The next day a clear winter's sun 
made the snow very brilliant. The dili- 
gence, already harnessed, v/aited before 
the door, v/hile an army of white pig- 
eons, in their thick plumage, with rose- 
colored eyes, with a black spot in the 
center, walked up and down gravely 
among the legs of the six horses, seeking 
their livelihood in the manure there 
scattered. 

The driver, enveloped in his sheep- 
skin, had a lighted pipe under the seat, 
and all the travelers, radiant, were 
rapidly packing some provisions for the 
rest of the journey. They were only 
waiting for Ball-of-Fat. Finally she 
appeared. 



26 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



She seemed a little troubled, 
ashamed. And she advanced timidly 
toward her companions, who all, with 
one motion, tu.ned as if they had not 
seen her. The Count, with dignity, 
took the arm of his wife and removed 
her from this impure contact. 

The fat girl stopped, half stupefied; 
then, plucking up courage, she 
approached the manufacturer's wife 
with "Good morning, Madame,'* hum- 
bly murmured. The lady made a slight 
bow of the head which sh2 accompanied 
with a look of outraged virtue. 
Everybody seemed busy, and kept 
themselves as far from her as if she had 
bad some infectious disease in her 
skirts. Then they hurried into Lhe car- 
riage, where she came last, alone, and 
where she took the place she had occu- 
pied during the first part of the journey. 

They seemed n^t to see her or know 
her; although Madame Loiseau, looking 
at her from afar, said to her husband 
in a half-tone: "Happily, I don't have 
to sit beside her." 

The heavy carriage began to move 
and the remainder of the journey com- 
menced. No one spoke ai first. Ball- 
of-Fat dared not raise her eyes. She 
felt indignant toward all her neighbors, 
and at the same time humiliated at 
having yielded to the foul kisses of this 
Prussian, into whose arms they had 
hypocritically thrown her. 

Then the Countess, turning toward 
Mrs. Carre-Lamadon, broke the difficult 
silence: 

"I believe you know Madame 
^i'Etrelles?" 

''Ye*;, she is one of my friends." 

*'Wh"t a charming woman!" 

"Delightful! A very gentle nature, 



and well educated, besides; then she fs 
an artist to the tips of her fingers, 
sings beautifully, and draws to perfec- 
tion." 

The manufacturer chatted with the 
Count, and in the midst of the rattling 
cf the glass, ail occasional word escaped 
such as "coupon — premium — ^limit — ex- 
piration." 

Loiseau, who had pilfered the old 
pack of cards from the inn, greasy 
through five years of contact with 
tables badly cleaned, began a game of 
bezique with his wife. 

The good sisters took from their belt 
the long rosary which hung there, made 
together the sign of the cross, and sud- 
denly began to move their lips in a 
lively murmur, as if they were going 
through the whole of the "Oremus." 
And from time to time they kissed a 
medal, made the sign anew, ihen re- 
commenced their muttering, which was 
rapid and continued. 

Cornudet sat motionless, thinking. 

At the end of three hours on the way, 
Loiseau put up the cards and said: "I 
am hungry." 

His wife drew out a package frora 
v/henco she brought a piece cf cold 
veal. She cut it evenly in thin pieces 
and they both began to eat. 

"Suppose we do the same," said the 
Countess. 

They consented to it and she undid 
the provisions prepared for the two 
couples. It was in one of those dishes 
whose lid is decorated with a china 
hare, to signify that a pate of hare is 
inside, a succulent dish of pork, where 
v/hi'e rivers of lard cross the brown 
flesh of the game, mixed with some 
other viands hashed fine. A beautiful 



BALL-OF-FAT 



2) 



f.quare of Gruyere cheese, wrapped in 
a piece of newspaper, preserved the im- 
print "divers things" upon the unctuous 
plate. 

The two good sisters unrolled a big 
sausage which smelled of garlic; and 
Cornudct plunged his two hands into 
the vast pockets of his overcoat, at the 
same time, and drew out four hard 
eggs and a piece of bread. He removed 
the shells and threw them in the straw 
under h's feet; then he began to eat 
the eggs, letting fall on his vast beard 
some biLs of clear yellow, which looked 
like stars caught there. 

Ball-cf-Fat, in the haste and distrac- 
tion of her rising, had not thought of 
anything; and she looked at them exas- 
perated, suffocating with rage, at all of 
ihem eating so placidly. A tumultuous 
anger swept over her at first, and she 
opened her mouth to cry out at them, 
to hurl at them a flood of injury which 
mounted to her lips; but she could not 
speak, her exasperaticn strangled her. 

No one looked at her or thought of 
her. She felt herself drowned in the 
scorn of these honest scoundrels, who 
had first sacrificed her and then rejected 
her, like some improper or useless arti- 
cle. She thouj^ht of her great basket 
full of good things which they had 
greedily devoured, of her two chickens 
shining with jelly, of her pdt^Sy her 
pears, and the four bottles of Bordeaux; 
and her fury suddenly falling, as a cord 
drawn too tightly breaks, she felt 
ready to weep. She made terrible 
efforts to prevent it, making ugly faces, 
swallowing her sobs as children do, but 
the tears came and glistened in the 
corners of her eyes, and then two great 
^'rops, detaching themselves from the 



rest, rolled slowly down like little 
streams of water that filter through 
rock, and, falling regularly, rebounded 
upon her breast. She sits erect, her 
eyes fixed, her face rigid and pale, 
hoping that no one will notice her. 

But the Countess perceives her and 
tells her husband by a sign. He shrugs 
his shoulders, as much as to say: 

"What would you have me do, it is 
not mv fault." 

Mrs. Loiseau indulged in a mute 
laugh of triumph and murmured: 

"She weeps for shame." 

The two good sisters began to pray 
again, after having wrapped in a paper 
the remainder of their sausage. 

Then Comudet, who was digesting 
his eggs, extended his legs to the seat 
opposite, crossed them, folded his arms, 
smiled like a man who ii watching a 
good farce, and began to whistle the 
"Marseillaise." 

All face? grew dark. The popular 
song assuredly did not please his neigh- 
bors. They became nervous and agi- 
tated, having an appearance of wishing 
to howl, like dogs, when they hear a 
barbarous organ. He perceived this but 
did not stop. Sometimes he would hum 
the v/ords: 

"Sacred love of country 
Help, sustain th' avenging arm; 
Liberty, sweet Liberty 
Ever fight, v.'ith no alarm." 

They traveled fast, the snow hdn^ 
harder. But as far as Dieppe, durmg 
the long, sad hours of the journey, 
across the jolts in the road, through the 
falling night, in the profound darkness 
^f the carriage, he continued his venge- 
ful, monotonous whistling with a fero* 



28 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



cious obstinacy, constraining his neigh- 
bors to follow the song from one end 
to the other, and to recall the words 
that belonged to each measure. 



And Ball-of-Fat wept continually; 
and sometimes a sob, which she was not 
able to restrain, echoed between fhc 
two rows of people in the shadows. 



The Diamond Necklace 



She was one of those pretty, charm- 
ing young ladies, born, as if through an 
error of destiny, into a family of clerks. 
She had no dowry, no hopes, no means 
of becoming known, appreciated, loved, 
and married by a man either rich or 
distinguished; and she allowed herself 
to marry a petty clerk in the office of 
the Board of Education. 

She was simple, not being able to 
adorn herself; but she was unhappy, as 
one out of her class; for women belong 
to no caste, no race; their grace, their 
beauty, and their charm serving them 
in the place of birth and family. Their 
inborn finesse, their instinctive elegance, 
their suppleness of wit are their only 
aristocracy, making some daughters of 
the people the equal of great ladies. 

She suffered incessantly, feeling her- 
self born for all delicacies and luxuries. 
She suffered from the poverty of her 
apartment, the shabby walls, the worn 
chairs, and the faded stuffs. All these 
things, which another woman of her 
station would not have noticed, tortured 
and angered her. The sight of the little 
Breton, who made this humble home, 
awoke in her sad regrets and desperate 
dreams. She thought of quiet ante- 
chambers, with their Oriental hangings, 
lighted by high, bronze torches, and of 
the two grPAt footmen in short trousers 



who sleep in the large armchairs, made 
sleepy by the heavy air from the heat- 
ing apparatus. She thought of large 
drawing-rooms, hung in old silks, of 
graceful pieces of furniture carrying 
bric-a-brac of inestimable value, and of 
the little perfumed coquettish apart- 
ments, made for five o'clock chats with 
most intimate friends, men known and 
sought after, whose attention all womec 
envied and desired. 

When she seated herself for dinner, 
before the round table where the table- 
cloth had been used three days, opposite 
her husband who uncovered the tureen 
with a delighted air, raying: "Oh! the 
good potpie! I know nothing better 
than that — " she would think of the 
elegant dinners, of the shining silver, of 
the tapestries peopling the walls with 
ancient personages and rare birds in the 
midst of fairy forests; she thought of 
the exquisite food served on marvelous 
dishes, of the whispered gallantries, lis- 
tened to with the smile of the sphinx, 
while eating the rose-colored flesh of the 
trout or a chicken's wing. 

She had neither frocks nor jewels, 
nothing. And she loved only those 
things. She felt that she was made for 
them. She had such a desire to please, 
to be sought after, to be clever, and 
courted 



THE DIAMOND NECKLACE 



29 



She had a rich friend, a schoolmate 

at the convent, whom she did not like 

to visit, she suffered so much when she 

returned. And she wept for whole days 

from chagrin, from regret, from despair, 

and disappointment. 
****** 

One evening her husband returned 
elated bearing in his hand a large en- 
velope. 

"Here," he said, "here is something 
for you." 

She quickly tore open the wrapper 
and drew out a printed card on which 
were inscribed these words: 

*'The Minister of Public Instruction 
and Madame George Ramponneau ask 
the honor ot Mr. and Mrs. Loisel's com- 
pany Monday evening, January 18, at the 
Minister's residence." 

Instead of being delighted, as her hus- 
band had hoped, she threw the invita- 
tion spitefully upon the table murmur- 
ing: 

"What do you suppose I want with 
that?" 

"But, my dearie, I thought it would 
make you happy. You never go out, 
and this is an occasion, and a fine one! 
I had a great deal of trouble to get it. 
Everybody wishes one, and it is very 
select; not many are given to employees. 
You will see the whole official world 
there." 

She looked at him with an irritated 
eye and declared impatiently: 

"What do you suppose I have to 
wear to such a thing as that?" 

He had not thought of that; he stam- 
mered : 

"Why, the dress you wear when we 
go to the theater. It seems very pretty 
to me—" 



He was silent, stupefied, in dismay, 
at the sight of his wife weeping. Two 
great tears fell slowly from the corners 
of his eyes toward the corners of his 
mouth; he stammered: 

"What is the matter? What is the 
matter?" 

By a violent effort, she had con- 
trolled her vexation and responded in 
a calm voice, wiping her moist cheeks: 

"Nothing. Only I have no dress and 
consequently I cannot go to this affair. 
Give your card to some colleague whose 
wife is better fitted out than I." 

He was grieved, but answered: 

"Let us see, Matilda. How much 
would a suitable costume cost, some- 
thing that would serve for other oc- 
casions, something very simple?" 

She reflected for some seconds, mak- 
ing estimates and thinking of a sum 
that she could ask for without bringing 
with it an immediate refusal and a 
frightened exclamation from the eco- 
nomical clerk. 

Finally she said, in a hesitating voice : 

"I cannot tell exactly, but it seems 
to me that four hundred francs ought 
to cover it." 

He turned a little pale, for he had 
saved just this sum to buy a gun that 
he might be able to join some hunting 
parties the next summer, on the plains 
at Nanterre, wfth some friends who 
went to shoot larks up there on Sun- 
day. Nevertheless, he answered: 

"Very well. I will give you four hun- 
dred francs. But try to have a pretty 
dress." 

3|C ^ 3|* 3fC 3j* Jp 

The day of the ball approached and 
Mme. Loisel seemed sad, disturbed, 
anxious. Nevertheless, her dress wa- 



30 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



nearly ready. Her husband said to her 
one evening: 

*'WhaL is the matter with you? You 
have acted strangely for two or three 
clays." 

And she responded: "I am vexed not 
to have a jewel, not one stone, nothing 
to adorn myself with. I shall have 
such a poverty-laden look. I would pre- 
fer not to go to this party." 

He replied: "You can wear some 
natural flowers. At this season they 
look very ch'x. For ten francs you can 
have two or three magnificent roses." 

She was net convinced. "No," she 
replied, * there is nothing more humili- 
ating than to h::ve a shabby air in the 
midst of rich women." 

Then her husband cried out: "How 
stupid we arc! Co and find your friend 
Mrs. Fcrt-stier and ask her to lend you 
her jewels. Ycu are well enough ac- 
quainted with her to do this." 

She uttered a cry of joy; "It is true'" 
she said. "I hi 1 not thought of that." 

The next dcy she took herself to 
ber friend's house and related her story 
of distress. LIrs. Forestier went to her 
closet Y/*lh the glass doors, took out a 
large jewel-case, brought it, opened it, 
and said: "Choose, my dear." 

She saw at first some bracelets, then 
a collar of pearls, then a Venetian cross 
of gold and jewels and of adniirablc 
workmanship. She tried the jewels be- 
fore the glass, hesitated, but could 
neither decide to take them nor leave 
them. Then she asked: 

"Have ycu nothmg more?" 

"Why, yes. Look for yourself. I 
do not know what will please you." 

Suddenly she discovered, \^ a black 
atin box, a superb necklace of diamonds. 



and her heart beat fast with an im- 
moderate desire. Her hands trembled 
as she took them up. She placed them 
about her throat against her dress, and 
remained in ecstasy before them. Then 
she asked, in a hesitating voice, full of 
anxiety : 

"Could you lend me this? Only 
this?" 

"Why, yes, certainly." 

She fell upon the neck of her friend, 

embraced her with passion, then went 

away with her treasure. 
****** 

The day of the ball arrived. Mme. 
Loisel was a great success. She was the 
prettiest of all, elegant, gracious, smil- 
ing, and full of joy. All the men 
noticed her, asked her name, and 
wanted to be presented. All the mem- 
bers of the Cabinet wished to waltz with 
her. The Minister of Education paid 
her some attention. 

She danced with enthusiasm, with 
passion, intoxicated with pleasure, think* 
ing of nothinjj, in the triumph of her 
beauty, in the glory cf her success, in 
a kind of cloud cf happiness that came 
of all this homage, and all this admira- 
tion, of all these awakened desires, and 
this victory so complete and sweet to 
th:; heart of woman. 

She went home toward four o'clock 
in the morning. Her husband had been 
half asleep in one of the little salons 
since midnight, with three other gentle- 
men whose wives were enjoying them- 
selves very much. 

He threw around her shoulders the 
wraps they £ad carried for the cominjj 
home, modest garments of everyday 
wear, whose poverty clashed with the 
elegance of the ball costume. She felt 



TRZ DIAMOND NZCKLACE 



31 



this and wished to hurry away in order 
not to be noticed by the other women 
who were wrapping themselves in rich 
furs. 

Loisel retained her: "Wait, said he. 
"You will catch cold out there. I am 
going to call a cab." 

But she would not listen and de- 
scended the steps rapidly. When they 
were in the street, they found no car- 
riage; and they began to seek for one, 
hailing the coachmen whom they saw at 
a distance. 

They walked along toward the Seine, 
hopeless and shivering. Finally they 
found on the dock one of those old, 
nocturnal coupes that one sees in Paris 
after nightfall, as if they were ashamed 
of their misery by day. 

It took them as far as their door in 
Martyr street, and they went wearily 
up to their apartment. It was all over 
for her. And en his part, he remem- 
bered that he would have to be at the 
office by ten o'clock. 

She removed the wraps from her 
shoulders before the glass, for a final 
view of herself in her glory. Suddenly 
she uttered a cry. Her necklace was 
not around her neck. 

Her husband, already half undressed, 
asked: "What is the matter?" 

She turned toward him excitedly: 

'1 have — I have — I no longer have 
Mrs. Forestier's necklace." 

He arose in dismay: "What! How is 
that? It is not possible." 

And they looked in the folds of the 
dress, in the folds rf the mantle, in the 
pockets, everywhere. They could not 
find it. 

He asked: "You are sure yon still 
had if when we left the house?" 



"Yes, I felt it in the vestibule as we 
came out." 

"But if you had lost it in the street, 
we should have heard it fail. It must 
be in the cab." 

"Yes. It is probable. Did you take 
the number?" 

"No. And you, did you notice what 
it was?" 

"No." 

They looked at each other utterly cast 
down. Finally, Loisel dressed himself 
again. 

"I am going," said he, "over the 
track where we went on foot, to see if 
I can find it." 

And he went. She remain'^d in her 
evening gown, not having the force to 
go to bed, stretched upon a chair, with- 
out ambition or thoughts. 

Toward seven o'clock h:;r husband re 
turned. He had found no'Jiing. 

He went to the police and to the cab 
offices, and put an advertisement in the 
newspapers, offering a reward; he did 
ev^ery thing that afforded them a sus- 
picion of hope. 

She waited all day in a state of be- 
wilderment before this frightful dis- 
aster. Loisel returned at evening with 
his face harrowed and pale; and had 
discovered nothing. 

"It will be necessary," said he, "to 
write to your friends that you have 
broken the clasp cf the necklace and 
that you will have it repaired. That 
will give us time to turn around." 

She wrote as he dictated. 
4c ^ * i * ^ 

At the end cf a week, they had lost 
all hope. And Loisel, older by five 
years, declared: 



32 



WORKS OF GUY D£ MAUP ASSAM! 



"We must take measures to replace 
this jewel." 

The next day they took the box which 
had inclosed it, to the jeweler whose 
name was on the inside. He consulted 
his books: 

"It is not I, Madame," said he, "who 
sold this necklace; I only furnished 
the casket." 

Then they went from jeweler to 
jeweler seeking a necklace like the other 
one, consulting their memories, and ill, 
both of them, with chagrin and anxiety. 

In a shop of the Palais-Royal, they 
found a chaplet of diamonds which 
seemed to them exactly like the one 
they had lost. It was valued at forty 
thousand francs. They could get it for 
thirty-six thousand. 

They begged the jeweler not to sell 
it for three days. And they made an 
arrangement by which they might re- 
turn it for thirty-four thousand francs 
if they found the other one before the 
end of February. 

Loisel possessed eighteen thousand 
francs which his father had left him. 
He borrowta the rest. 

He borrowed it, asking for a thou- 
sand francs of one, five hundred of an- 
other, five louis of this one, and three 
louis of that one. He gave notes, made 
ruinous promises, took money of usur- 
ers and the whole race of lenders. He 
compromised his whole existence, in 
fact, risked his signature, without even 
knowing whether he could make it good 
or not, and, harassed by anxiety for the 
future, by the black misery which 
surrounded him, and by the prospect 
of cM physical privations and moral 
torture, he went to get the new neck- 
lace, depositing on the merchant's 



counter thirty-six thousand francs 
When Mrs. Loisel took back the 

jewels to Mrs. Forestier, the latter said 

to her in a frigid tone: 

"You should have returned them to 

me sooner, for I might have needed 

them." 
She did open the jewel-box as her 

friend feared she would. If she should 

perceive the substitution, what would 

she think? What should she say? 

Would she take her for a robber? 

Mrs. Loisel now knew the horrible life 
of necessity. She did her part, how- 
ever, completely, heroically. It was 
necessary to pay this frightful debt. 
She would pay it. They sent away the 
maid, they changed their lodgings; they 
rented some rooms under a mansard 
roof. 

She learned the heavy cares of a 
household, the odious work of a kitchen. 
She washed the dishes, using her rosy 
nails upon the greasy pots and the bot- 
toms of the stewpans. She washed the 
soiled linen, the chemises and dish- 
cloths, w&ich she hung on the line to 
dry; she took down the refuse to the 
street each morning and brought up the 
water, stopping at each landing to 
breathe. And, clothed like a woman of 
the people, she went to the grocer's, the 
butcher's, and the fruiterer's, with her 
basket on her arm, shopping, haggling 
to the last sou her miserable money. 

Every month it was necessary to re- 
new some notes, thus obtaining time» 
and to pay others. 

The husband worked evenings, putting 
the books of some merchants in order, 
and nights he often did copying at fiv* 
sous a page. 



THE DIAMOND NECKLACE 



33 



And this life lasted for ten years. 

At the end of ten years, they had 
restored all, all, with interest of the 
usurer, and accumulated interest be- 
sides. 

Mrs. Loisel seemed old now. She had 
become a strong, hard woman, the crude 
woman of the poor household. Her 
hair badly dressed, her skirts awry, her 
hands red, she spoke in a loud tone, 
and washed the floors in large pails of 
water. But sometimes, when her hus- 
band was at the office, she would seat 
herself before the window and think of 
that evening party of former times, of 
that ball whe:e she was so beautiful and 
so flattered. 

How would it have been if she had 
not lost that necklace? Who knows? 
Who knows? How singular is life, and 
how full of changes! How small a 
thing will ruin or save one! 

t" V T* ^ 1* T* 

One Sunday, as she was taking a walk 
in the Champs-Elysees to rid herself 
of the cares of the week, she suddenly 
perceived a woman walking with a child. 
It was Mrs. Forestier, still young, still 
pretty, still attractive. Mrs. Loisel was 
affected. Should she speak to her? Yes, 
certainly. And now that she had paid, 
she would tell her all. Why not? 

She approached her. "Good morning, 
Jeanne." 

Her friend did not recognize her and 
was astonished to be so familiarly ad- 
dressed by this common personage. She 
stammered; 



"But, Madame — ^I do not know — ^You 
must be mistaken — " 

''No, I am Matilda Loisel." 

Her friend uttered a cry of astonish- 
ment: "Oh! my poor Matilda! How 
you have changed — " 

"Yes, I have had some hard days 
since I saw you; and some miserable 
ones — and all because of you — " 

"Because of me? How is that?" 
"You recall the diamond necklace that 
you loaned me to wear to the Com- 
missioner's ball?" 

"Yes, very well." 

"Well, I lost it." 

"How is that, since you returned it 
to me?" 

"I returned another to you exactly 
like it. And it has taken us ten years 
to pay for it. You can understand 
that it was not easy for us who aave 
nothing. But it is finished and I am 
decently content." 

Madame Forestier stopped short. 
She said: 

"You say that you bought a diamond 
necklace to replace mine?" 

"Yes. You did not perceive it then? 
They were just alike." 

And she smiled with a proud and 
simple joy. Madame Forestier was 
touched and took both her hands as she 
replied : 

"Oh! my poor Matilda! Mine wei*|<| 
false. They were not worth over fivej- 
hundred francs!" 



A Piece of String 



Along all the roads around Goder- 
viLe the peasants and their wives were 
commg toward the burgh because it was 
market day. The men were p:cceed- 
ing with slow steps, the whole body bent 
forward at each movement of their long 
twisted legs, deformed by their hard 
work, by the weight on the plow which, 
at the same time, raised the left shoul- 
der and swerved the figure, by the reap- 
ii"ig of the wheat which made the knees 
spread to make a firm "purchase," by 
all the slow and painful labors of the 
country. Their blouses, blue, "stiff- 
starched," shining as if varnished, orna- 
mented with a little design in white at 
the neck and wrists, puffed about their 
bony bodies, seemed like balloons ready 
to carry them off. From each of them 
a head, two arms, and two feet pro- 
truded. 

Some led a cow or a calf by a cord, 
and their wives, walking behind the 
animal, whipped its haunches with a 
leafy branch to hasten its progress. 
They carried large baskets on their arms 
from, which, in some cases, chickens 
and, in others, ducks thrust out their 
heads. And they walked with a quicker, 
livelier step than their husbands. Their 
spare straight figures were wrapped in 
a scanty I'ttle shawl, pinned over their 
flat bosscms, and their heads were en- 
veloped in a white cloth glued to the 
hair and surmounted by a cap. 

Then a wagon passed ac the jerky 
trot of a nag, shaking strangely, two 
men seated side by side and a woman 
in the bottom of the vehicle, the latter 
holding on to the sides to lessen the 
hard jolts. 



In the public square of GodervilU 
there was a crowd, a throng cf human 
beings and animals mixed together. 
The horns of the cattle, the tall hats 
with long nap cf tiic ri:h peasant, and 
the headgear cf the peasar.t women rose 
above the surface of the assembly. 
And the clamorous, shrill, screaming 
voices made a continuous and savage 
tiin v/hich sometimes was dominated by 
the robust lungs of some countryman's 
hu:;jh, or the long lowing of a cow tied 
to the wall of a house. 

All that smacked of the stable, thf 
dairy and the dirt heap, hay and sweat, 
giving for'ch that unpleasant odor, hu- 
man and animal, pecuhar to the people 
cf the field. 

Maitre Hauchecomc, of Breaute, had 
just arrived at Goderville, and he was 
directing his steps toward the public 
square, when he perceived upon the 
ground a little piece of string. Maitre 
Hauchecom.e, eeoncmiccl like a true 
Norman, thought tlrt ever 'thing use- 
ful ought to be picked up, and he bent 
painfully, for he suffered from rheuma- 
tism. He took the bit of thin cord from 
the ground and began to roll it carefully 
when he noticed Ma'tre Malandain, the 
harness-maker, on the threshold of his 
doer, locking rt h'm. Th^y had here- 
tofore had business together on the 
subject cf a halter, and they were on 
bad terms, being both good haters. 
Maitre Hauchecome was seized with a 
sort of shrme to be seen thus by his 
enemy, picking a bit cf string out of 
the dirt. He concealed his "find" 
ruickly under his blouse, then in his 
trousers* pocket; then he pretended to 



A PIECE OF STRING 



35 



be still looking on the ground for some- 
thing which he did not find, and he 
went toward the market, his head for- 
ward, bent double Ly his pains. 

He was soon lest in the noisy and 
slowly moving crowd, which was busy 
with inlermlnable bargainings. The 
peasants milked, went and came, per- 
plexed, always in fear of being cheated, 
not daring to decide, watching the ven- 
der's eye, ever trying to find the trick 
in the man and the flaw in the beast. 

The women, having placed th^Ir great 
baskets at their feet, had taken out 
the poultry which lay upon the ground, 
tied together by the feet, with terrified 
eyes and scarlet crests. 

They heard offers, stated their prices 
with a dry air and impassive face, or 
perhaps, suddenly deciding en some pro- 
posed reduction, shouted to the cus- 
tomer who was slowly going away: 
"All right, IMaitre Authirne, I'll give 
it to you for that." 

Then little by little the square was 
deserted, and the Angelus ringing at 
noon, those who had stayed too long, 
scattered to their shops. 

At Jourdain's the great room was full 
of people eating, as the big court was 
full of vehicles of all kinds, carts, gigs, 
wagons, dump carts, yellow with dirt, 
mended and patched, raising their shafts 
to the sky like two arms, or perhaps 
with their shafts in the ground and their 
backs in the air. 

Just opposite the diners seated at the 
table, the immense fireplace, filled with 
bright flames, cast a lively heat on the 
backs of the row on the right. Three 
spits were turning on which were chick- 
ens, pigeons, and legs of mutton; and 
an appetizing odor of roast beef and 



gravy dripping over the nicely browned 
skin rose from the hearth, increased 
the jovialness, and made everybody's 
mouth water. 

Ail the aristocracy of the plow ate 
there, at Maitre Jourdain's, tavern 
keeper and horse dealer, a rascal who 
had money. 

The dishes were passed and emptied, 
as were the jugs of yellow cider. 
Everyone told his affairs, his purchases, 
and sales. They discussed the crops. 
The weather was favorable for the 
green things but not for the wheat. 

Suddenly the drum beat in the court, 
before the house. Everybody rose ex- 
cept a few indifferent persons, and ran 
to the door, or to the windows, their 
mouths still full and napkins in their 
hands. 

After the public crier had ceased his 
drum-beating, he called out in a jerky 
voice, speaking his phrases irregularly: 

'Tt is hereby made known to the in- 
habitants of Goderville, and in general 
to all persons present at the market, 
that there was lost this morning, on 
the road to Benzeville, between nine and 
ten o'clock, a black leather pocketbook 
containing five hundred francs and some 
business papers. The finder is requested 
to return same with all haste to the 
mayor's office or to Maitre Fortune 
Houlbreque of Manneville, there will 
be twenty francs reward." 

Then the man went away. The heavy 
roll of the drum and the crier's voice 
were again heard at a distance. 

Then they began to talk of this event 
discussing the chances that Maitre 
Houlbreque had of finding or not find- 
ing his pocketpook. 

And the meal concluded. They wero 



36 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



finishing their coffee when a chief of the 
gendarmes appeared upon the threshold. 

He inquired: 

"Is Maitre Hauchecome, of Breaute, 
here?" 

Maitre Hauchecome, seated at the 
Other end of the table, rephed: 

*'Here I am." 

And the officer resumed: 

**Maitre Hauchecome, will you have 
the goodness to accompany me to the 
mayor's ofhce? The mayor would like 
to talk to you." 

The peasant, surprised and disturbed, 
swallowed at a draught his tiny glass of 
brandy, rose, and, even more bent than 
in the morning, for the first steps after 
each rest were specially difficult, set out, 
repeating: ''Here I am, here I am." 

The mayor was awaiting him, seated 
on an armchair. He was the notary of 
the vicinity, a stout, serious man, with 
pompous phrases. 

"Maitre Hauchecome," said he, 
"you were seen this morning to pick 
up, on the road to Benzeville, the 
pocketbook lost by Maitre Houlbreque, 
of Manneville." 

The countryman, astounded, looked 
at the mayor, already terrified, by this 
suspicion resting on him without his 
knowing why. 

"Me? Me? Me pick up the pocket- 
book?" 

"Yes, you, yourself." 

"Word of honor, I never heard of it." 

"But you were seen." 

"I was seen, me? Who says he saw 
me?" 

"Monsieur Malandain, the harness- 
maker." 

The old man remembered, understood, 
•ind flushed with anff**h 



"Ah, he saw me, the clodhopper, he 
saw me pick up this string, here, 
M'sieu, the Mayor." And rummaging in 
his pocket he drew out the little piece 
of string. 

But the mayor, incredulous, shook his 
head. 

"You will not make me believe, 
Maitre Hauchecome. that Monsieur 
Malandain, who is a man worthy of 
credence, mistook this cord for a pocket- 
book." 

The peasant, furious, lifted his hand, 
spat at one side to attest his honor, 
repeating: 

"It is nevertheless the truth of the 
good God, the sacred truth, M'sieu' the 
Mayor. I repeat it on my soul and my 
salvation." 

The mayor resumed: 

"After picking up the object, you 
stood like a stilt, looking a long while 
in the mud to see if any piece of monev 
had fallen out." 

The good, old man choked with in- 
dignation and fear. 

"How anyone can tell — ^how anyone 
can tell — such lies to take away an 
honest man's reputation! How can 
anyone — " 

There was no use in his protesting, 
nobody believed him. He was con- 
fronted with Monsieur Malandain, who 
repeated and maintained his affirma- 
tion. They abused each other for an 
hour. At his own request, Maitre 
Hauchecome was searched, nothing was 
found on him. 

Finally the mayor, very much per- 
plexed, discharged him with the warn- 
ing that he would consult the public 
prosecutor and ask for further orders. 



A PIECE OF STRING 



37 



rhe news had spread. As he left the 
mayor's oifice, the old man was sur- 
rounded and questioned with a serious 
or bantering curiosity, in which there 
was no indignation. He began to tell 
the story of the string. No one be- 
lieved him. They laughed at him. 

He went along, stopping his friends, 
beginning endlessly his statement and 
his protestations, showing his pockets 
turned inside out, to prove that he had 
nothing. 

They said: 

"Old rascal, get out!" 

And he gre\v angry, becoming ex- 
asperated, hot, and distressed at not 
being believed, not knowing what to do 
and always repeating himself. 

Night came. He must depart. He 
started on his way with three neighbors 
to whom he pointed out the place where 
he had picked up the bit of string; and 
all along the road he spoke of his ad- 
venture. 

In the evening he took a turn in the 
village of Breaute, in order to tell it 
to everybody. He only met with in- 
credulity. 

It made him ill at night. 

The next day about one o'clock in 
the afternoon, Marius Paumelle, a hired 
man in the employ of Maitre Breton, 
husbandman at Ymanville, returned the 
pocketbook and its contents to Maitre 
Houlbreque of Manneville. 

This man claimed to have found the 
object in the road; but not knowing 
how to read, he had carried it to the 
house and given it to his employer. 

The news spread through the neigh- 
borhood. Maitre Hauchecome was in- 
formed of it. He immediately went 
' ke circuit and began to recount his 



story completed by the happy climax. 
He was in triumph. 

*'What grieved me so much was not 
the thing itself, as the lying. There is 
nothing so shameful as to be placed 
under a cloud on account of a lie." 

He talked of his adventure all day 
long, he told it on the highway to peo- 
ple who were passing by, in the wine- 
shop to people who were drinking there, 
ana to persons coming out of church 
the following Sunday. He stopped 
strangers to tell them about it. He 
was calm now, and yet something dis* 
turbed him without his knowing ex* 
actly what it was. People had the air 
of joking while they Hstened. They 
did not seem convinced. He seemed 
to feel that remarks were being made 
behind his back. 

On Tuesday of the next week he went 
to the market at Goderville, urged solely 
by the necessity he felt of discussing 
the case. 

Malandain, standing at his door, be- 
gan to laugh on seeing him pass. Why? 

He approached a farmer from Creque- 
tot, who did not let him finish, and 
giving him a thump in the stomach said 
to his face: 

"You big rascal." 

Then he turned his back on hipi. 

Maitre Hauchecome was confused, 
why was he called a big rascal? 

When he was seated at the table, in 
Jourdain's tavern he commenced to ex- 
plain "the affair." 

A horse dealer from Monvilliers callerf 
to him: 

"Come, come, old sharper, that's ap 
old trick; I know all about your piecf 
of string!" 

Hauchecome stammered: 



38 



WORKS OF GUY DZ MAUPASSANT 



"But since the pocketbook was 
found." 

But the other man replied: 

*'S*hut up, papa, there is one that finds, 
and there is one that reports. At any 
rate you are mixed with it." 

The peasant stood choking. He un- 
derstood. They accused him of having 
had th3 pocketbook returned by a con- 
federate, by an accomplice. 

He tried to protest. All the table 
began to laugh. 

He could net finish his dinner and 
went away, m the midst of jeers. 

He went home ashamed and indig- 
nant, choking with anger and confusion, 
tha more dejected that he was capable 
with his Norman cunning c'l doing 
what they had accused him ci. and ever 
boasting of it as Df a good tivrn. His 
innocence to him, in a confused way, 
was impossible to prove, as his sharp- 
ness was known. And he was stricken 
to the heart by the injustice of the sus- 
picion. 

Then he began to recount th^^ adven- 
t'^res again, prolonging his history every 



day, adding each time, new reasons, 
more energetic protestations, more 
solemn oaths which he imagined and 
prepared in h!s hours of soLtudc, his 
whole mind given up to the story of 
the string. He was believed so much 
the less as his def2nse was mo'rz com- 
plicated and hio arguing more subtile. 

"Those are lying excuses," they said 
behind his back. 

He felt it, consumed his heart over 
it, and wore himself out with useless 
efforts. He wasted away before their 
very eyes. 

The wags now made him tell about 
the string to amuse them, as they make 
a soldier who }'as been on a campaign 
tell about his battles. His mind, 
touched to the depth, began to weaken. 

Toward the end of December he took 
to his bed. 

He died in the first days of January, 
and in the deliriun rf his death strug- 
frles he kept claiming his innocence, 
reiterating: 

"A piece of string, a piece of string, 
— look — ^here it is, M'sieu' the Mayor." 



The Story of a Farm-Girl 



As THE weather was ver>' fine, the 
people on the farm had dined mort 
quickly than usual, and had returned to 
the fields. 

The female servant. Rose, remained 
alone in the large kitchen, where the 
fire on th? hearth was dying out, un- 
der the large boiler of hot water. From 
time *o time ?he took some water out 
of i^ and slowlv washed her plates and 



dishes, stopping occasionally to look at 
the two streaks of light which the sun 
threw on to the long table through the 
window, and which showed the defects 
in the glass. 

Three venturesome hens were picking 
up the crumbs under the chairs, while 
the smell of the T^'>uUry yard and the 
warmth from the cow-stall came in 
through the half open door, and a cock 



THE STORY OF A FARM-GIRL 



b^ 



was heard crowing in the distance. 

When she had finished her work, 
'viped down the table, dusted the mantel- 
piece, and put the plates on to the high 
dresser, close to the wooden clock, with 
its enormous pendulum, she drew a long 
breath, as she felt rather oppressed, 
without exactly ki .owing why. She 
looked at the black clay walls, the' raft- 
ers that were blackened with smoke, 
from which spiders' webs were hanging 
amid pickJed herrings and strings of 
cnions, and then she sat down, rather 
overcome by the stale emanations from 
the floor, on which so many things had 
been spilled. WitL these wp.3 mingled 
the smell of the pans of milk, which 
were set out to raise the cream in the 
adjoining dairy. 

She wanted to sew, as usual, but she 
did not feel strong enough for it, and 
so she went to get a mouthful of fresh 
air at the door, which seemed to do her 
good. 

The fowls were lying on the smoking 
dung-hill; some of them were scratch- 
ing with one claw in search of worms, 
while the cock stood up proudly among 
them. Now and then he selected one 
of them, and walkea round her with a 
slight cluck of amorous invitation. The 
hen got up in a careless way as she re- 
ceived his attentions, supported her- 
self en her legs and spread out her 
wings; then she shook her feathers to 
shake out the dust, and stretched her- 
self out on the dung-h'll again, while 
he crowed, in sign of triumph, and the 
cocks in all the neighboring farmyards 
replied to him, as if they were uttering 
amorous challenges from farm to farm. 

The girl looked at them without 
thinking; then she raised her eyes and 



was almost dazzled at the sight of the 
apple-trees in blossom, which looked al- 
most like powdered heads. Just then, 
a colt, full of life and friskiness, gal* 
loped past her. Twice he jumped over 
the ditches, and then stopped suddenly^ 
as if surprised at being alone. 

She also felt inclined to run; she felt 
inclined to move and to stretch her 
limbs, and to repose in the warm> 
breathless air. She took a few unde- 
cided steps, and closed her eyes, for she 
was seized with a feeling of animal 
comfort; then she went to look for the 
eggs in the hen loft. There were thir- 
teen of them, which she took in and 
put into the storeroom; but the smell 
from the kitchen disgusted her again 
and she went out to sit on the grass 
for a time. 

The farmyard, which was sun'ounded 
by trees, seemed to be asleep. The tall 
grass, among which the tall yellow 
dandelions rose up like streaks of yel- 
low light, was cf a vivid green, the fresh 
spring green. The apple-trees threw 
their snade all round them, and the 
thatched houses, on wh'ch the blue and 
yellow iris flowers, with their sword- 
like leaves, grew, rmoked as if the 
moisture cf the stables and barns v/as 
coming through the straw. 

The girl went to the shed where the 
carts and traps were kept. Close to it, 
in a dilch, there was a large patch of 
violets whose scent was perceptible all 
round, while beyond it could be seen 
the open country where the corn was 
growing, with clumps of trees in the dis- 
tance, and groups of laborers here and 
there, who looked as small as dolls, and 
white horses like toys, who were pulling 



40 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



a child's cart, driven by a man as tall 
as one's finger. 

She took up a bundle of straw, threw 
it into the ditch and sat down upon it; 
then, not feeling comfortable, she un- 
did it, spread it out and lay down upon 
it at full length, on her back, with both 
arms under her head, and her limbs 
btretched out. 

Gradually her eyes closed, and she 
was falling into a state of delightful 
languor. She was, in fact, almost asleep, 
when she felt two hands on her bosom, 
and then she sprang up at a bound. 
It was Jacques, one of the farm labor- 
ers, a tall fellow from Picardy, who had 
been making iove to her for a long 
tim.e. He had been looking after the 
isheep, and seeing her lying down in the 
shade, he had come stealthily, and hold- 
ing his breath, with glistening eyes, and 
bits of straw in his hair. 

He tried to kiss her, but she gave 
him a smack in the face, for she was 
as strong as he, and he was shrewd 
enough to beg her pardon: so they sat 
down side by side and talked amicably. 
They spoke about the favorable weather, 
of their master, who was a good fellow, 
then of their neighbors, of all the peo- 
ple in the country round, of themselves, 
of their village, of their youthful days, 
©f their recollections, of their relatives, 
whom they had not seen for a long 
time, and might not see again. She grew 
sad, as she thought of it, while he, with 
one fixed idea in his head, rubbed against 
her with a kind of a shiver, overcome 
by desire. 

*T have not seen my mother for a 
long time," she said. "It is very hard 
to be separated like that." And she 
directed her looks into the distance, 



toward the village in the North, which 
she had left. 

Suddenly, however, he seized her by 
the neck and kissed her again! but she 
struck him so violently in the face with 
her clenched fist, that his nose began to 
bleed, and he got up and laid his head 
against the stem of a tree. When she 
saw that, she was sorry, and going up 
to him, she said: 

'Have I hurt you?" 

He, however, only laughed. "No, it 
was a mere nothing;" though she had 
hit him right on the middle of the nose. 
"What a devil!" he said, and he looked 
at her with admiration, for she had in- 
spired him with a feeling of respect and 
of a very different kind of admiration, 
which was the beginning of real love 
for that tall, strong wench. 

When the bleeding had stopped, he 
proposed a walk, as he was afraid of 
his neighbor's heavy hand, if they re- 
mained side by side like that much 
longer; but she took his arm of her 
own accord, in the avenue, as if they 
had been out for an evening walk, and 
said: **It is not nice of you to despise 
me like that, Jacques." 

He protested, however. No, he did 
not despise her. He was in love with 
her, that was all. 

"So you really want to marry me?" 
she asked. 

He hesitated, and then looked at her 
aside, while she looked straight ahead of 
her. She had fat, red cheeks, a full, 
protuberant bust under her muslin dress, 
thick, red lips, and her neck, which was 
almost bare, was covered with small 
beads of perspiration. He felt a fresh 
access of desire, and putting his lips to 



THE STORY OF A FARM-GIPX 



41 



her ear, he murmured; "Yes, of course 
I do." 

Then she threw her arms round his 
neck, and kissed for such a long time, 
that they both of them lost their 
breath. From that moment the eternal 
stor>' of love began between them. 
They plagued one another in corners; 
they met in the moonlight under a hay- 
stack, and gave each other bruises on 
the legs, with their heavy nailed boots. 
By degrees, however, Jacques seemed 
to grow tired of her: he avoided her; 
scarcely spoke to her, and did not try 
any longer to meet her alone, which 
made her sad and anxious, especially 
when she found that she was pregnant. 

At first, she was in a state of con- 
sternation; then she got angry, and her 
rage increased every day, because she 
could not meet him, as he avoided her 
most carefully. At last, one night 
when everyone in the farmhouse was 
asleep, she went out noiselessly in her 
petticoat, with' bare feet, crossed the 
yard and opened the door of the stable 
where Jacques was lying in a large box 
of straw, over his horses. He pre- 
tended to snore when he heard her com- 
ing, but she knelt down by his side and 
shook him until he sat up. 

"What do you want?" he then asked 
of her. And she with clenched teeth, 
and trembling v/ith anger, replied: 

"I want — I want you to marry me, 
as you promised." 

But he only laughed, and replied: 
"Oh, If a man were to marry all the 
girls with whom he has made a slip, 
he would have more than enough to do." 

Then she seized him by the throat, 
threw him on to his back, so that he 
could not disengage himself from her. 



and half strangling him, she shouted 
into his face:" "I am enceinte, do you 
hear? I am ettceinte!'* 

He gasped for breath, as he was 
nearly choked, and so they remained, 
both of them, motionless and without 
speaking, in the dark silence, which was 
only broken by the noise that a horse 
made as he pulled the hay out of the 
manger, and then slowly chewed it. 

When Jacques found that she was 
the stronger, he stammered out: "Very 
well, I will marry you, as that is the 
case." 

But she did not believe his promises, 
"It must be at once," she said. "You 
must have the banns put up." 

"At once," he replied. 

"Swear solemnly that you will." 

He hesitated for a few moments, and 
then said: "I swear it, by heaven." 

Then she released her grasp, and went 
away without another word. 

She had no chance of speaking to 
him for several days, and as the stable 
was now always locked at night, she 
was afraid to make any noise, for fear 
of creating a scandal. One day, how- 
ever, she saw another man come in at 
dinner-time, and so she said: "Has 
Jacques left?" 

"Yes," the man replied; "I have got 
his place." 

This made her tremble so violently, 
that she could not take the saucepan off 
the fire; and later when they were all 
at work, she went up into her room 
and cried, burying her head in her 
bolster, so that she might not be heard. 
During the day, however, sh? tried to 
obtain some information without excit- 
ing any suspicions, but she was so over- 
whelmed by the thouprb^?; of her rais« 



42 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



fortune that she fancied that all the 
people ivhom she asked, laughed ma- 
liciouslv'. Ail she learned, however, was, 
that he had left the neighborhood alto- 
gether, 

II. 

Then a cloud of constant misery be- 
gan for her. She worked mechanically, 
without thinking of what she was doing, 
with one fixed idea in her head: "Sup- 
pose people were to know.' 

This continual feeling nade her so 
incapable of reasoning, that she did not 
even try to th'nk of any means of 
avoiding the disgrace that she knew must 
ensue, which was irreparable, and draw- 
ing nearer every day, and which was as 
sure as death itself. She got up every 
morning long before the others, and 
persistently tried to look at her figure 
in a piec3 of broken looking-glass at 
which she did her hair, as she was very 
anxious to know whether anybody 
would notice a change in her, and dur- 
ing the day she stopped working every 
few minutes to look at herself from top 
to toe, to see whether the size of her 
abdomen did not make her apron look 
too short. 

The months went on. Sh:; scarcely 
spoke now, and when she was asked a 
question, she did not appear to under- 
stand. She had a frightened look, with 
haggard eyes and trembling handSj 
which made her master say to her oc- 
casionally: "My poor girl, how stupid 
you have grown lately." 

In church, she hid behind a pillar, and 
no longer ventured to go to confession. 
She feared to face the priest, to whom 
she attributed a superhuman power, 
which enabled him to read people's con- 



sciences; and at meal times, the looks 
of her fellow-servants almost made her 
faint with mental agony. She was al- 
v/ays fancying that she had been found 
cut by the cowherd, a precocious and 
cunning liitle lad, whose br'ght eye* 
seemed always to be watching her. 

One morning the postman brought her 
a letter, and as she had never received 
cne in her Kfe before, she was so upset 
by it, that she was obliged to sit down. 
Perhaps it was from him? But as she 
could not read, she sat anxious and 
trembling with that piece of paper cov- 
ered with irk in her hand; after a time, 
however, she put it into her pocket, as 
she did not venture to confide her secret 
to anyone. She ©rten stopped in her 
work to look at the lines, v/ritten at 
regular intervals, and term'nating In a 
signature, im.agining vaguely that she 
would suddenly discover their meaning. 
At last, as she felt half mad with im- 
patience and anxiety, she went to the 
schoolm.aster, who told her to sit down, 
and read the letter to her, as follows: 

'*My Dear Daughter : — T write to tell 
you that I am verv ill. Our neighbor. 
'Monsieur Dentu, begs you to come, if 
you cnn, 

'Tor your affectionate mother, 
"Cesaire Dentu, 
"Deputy Mayor." 

She did not say a word, and went 
away, but as soon as she was aione, her 
legs gave way, and she fell down by the 
roadside, and remained there t'U night. 

When she got back, she told the 
farmer her trouble. He allowed her to 
go home for as long as she wanted, 
promised to have her work done by a 
charwoman, and to take her back whep 
she returned. 



Tirr: story of a farm-girl 



41 



Her mother died soon after she got 
there, and the next day Rose gave birth 
to a seven months' child, a miserable 
little skeleton, thin enough to make any- 
body shudder. It seemed to be suffer- 
ing continually, to judge from the pain- 
ful manner in which it moved its poor 
little limbs, wnich were as thin as a 
crab's legs, but it lived, for all that. 
She said that she was married, but that 
she could not saddle herself with the 
child, so she left it with some neigh- 
bors, who promised to take great care 
of it, and she went back to tho farm. 

But then, in her heart, which had been 
wounded so long, there arose somethmg 
like brightness, an unknown love for 
that frail little creature which she had 
left behind her, but there was fresh 
suffering in that very love, suffering 
which she felt every hour and every 
minute, because she was parted from 
the child. What pained her most, how- 
ever, was a mad longing to kiss it, to 
press it in her arms, to feel the warmth 
of its little body against her skin. She 
could not sleep at night; she thought 
of it the whole day long, and in the 
evening, when her work was done, she 
used to sit in frcr.t cf the fire and look 
at it intently, like people do whose 
thoughts a"e far away. 

They began to talk about her, and to 
tease her about her lover. They asked 
her whether he was tall, handsome, and 
rich. When was the wedding to be, and 
the christening? And often she ran 
away to cry by herself, for these ques- 
tions seemed to hurt her, Hke the prick 
of a pin, and in order to forget their 
jokes, she began to work still more 
energetically, and still thinking of her 
child, she sought for the means of sav- 



ing up money for it, and determined 
to work so that her master would be 
obliged to raise her wages. 

Then, by degrees, she almost monop- 
olized the work, and persuaded him to 
get rid of one servant girl, who had 
become useless since she had taken to 
working like two; she economized in the 
bread, oil, and candles, in the com 
which they gave to the fowls too ex- 
travagantly, and in the fodder for the 
horses and cattle, which was rather 
wasted. She was as miserly about her 
master's money as if it had been her 
own, and by dint of making good bar- 
gains, of getting high prices for all their 
produce, and by baffling the peasants' 
tricks when they offered anything for 
sale, he at last intrusted her with buy- 
ing and selling everything, with the di- 
rection of all the laborers, and with the 
quantity of provisions necessary for the 
household, so that in a short time she 
became indispensable to him. She kept 
such a strict eye on everything about 
her, that under her direction the farm 
prospered wonderfully, and for five 
miles round people talked of "Master 
Vallin's servant," and the farmer him- 
self said everywhere: "That girl is 
worth more than her weight in gold." 

But time passed by, and her wages 
remained the same. Her hard work was 
accepted as something that was due from 
every good servant, and as a mere token 
of her good-will ; and she began to think 
rather bitterly, that if the farmer could 
put fifty or a hundred crowns extra into 
the bank every month, thanks to her^ 
rhe was still only earnhig her two hun- 
dred francs a year, neither more noi 
less, and so she made un her mind to 
ask for an increase of v/ages. She went 



•'44 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



lo see the schoolmaster three times 
about it, but when she got there, she 
spoke about something else. She felt a 
kind of modesty in asking for money, 
as if it were something disgraceful; 
but at last, one day, when the farmer 
was having breakfast by himself in the 
kitchen, she said to him, with some 
embarrassment, that she wished to speak 
to him particularly. He raised his head 
in surprise, with both his hands on the 
table, holding his knife, with its point 
in the air, in one, and a piece of bread 
in the other. He looked fixedly at the 
girl, who felt uncomfortable under his 
gaze, but asked for a week's holiday, 
so that she might get away, as she was 
not very well. He acceded to her re- 
quest immediately, and then added, in 
some embarrassment, himself: 

"When you come back, I shall have 
something to say to you, myself." 

Ill 

The child was nearly eight months 
old, and she did not know it again. It 
had grown rosy and chubby all over like 
a little bundle of living fat. She threw 
herself on to it as if it had been some 
prey, and kissed it so violently that it 
began to scream with terror, and then 
she began to cry herself, because it did 
not know her, and stretched out its arms 
to its nurse, as soon as it saw her. But 
the next day, it began to get used to her, 
and laughed w'hen it saw her, and she 
took it into the fields and ran about 
excitedly with it, and sat down, under 
the shade of the trees, and then, for the 
first time in her life, she opened her 
heart to somebody, and told the infant 
ber troubles, how hard her work was. 



her anxieties and her hopes, and she 
quite tired the child with the violence 
of her caresses. 

She took the greatest pleasure in han- 
dling it, in washing and dressing it, for 
it seemed to her that all this was the 
confirmation of her maternity, and she 
would look at it, almost feeling sur- 
prised that it was hers, and she used to 
say to herself in a low voice, as she 
danced it in her arms : "It is my baby, 
it is my baby." 

She cried all the way home as she 
returned to the farm, and had scarcely 
got in, before her master called her into 
his room. She went in, feeling aston- 
ished and nervous, without knowing 
why. 

"Sit down there," he said. 

She sat down, and for some moments 
they remained side by side, in some 
embarrassment, with their arms hang- 
ing at their sides, as if they did not 
know what to do with them, and looking 
each other in the face, after the man- 
ner of peasants. 

The farmer, a stout, jovial, obstinate 
man of forty-five, who had lost two 
wives, evidently felt embarrassed, which 
was very unusual with him. But at last 
he made up his mind, and began to 
speak vaguely, hesitating a little, and 
looking out of the window as he talked. 

"How is it. Rose," he said, "that you 
have never thought of settling in life?" 

She grew as pale as death, and seeing 
that she gave him no answer, he went 
on: 

"You are a good, steady, active, and 
economical girl, and a wife like you 
would make a man's fortune." 

She did not move, but looked fright- 
ened: she did not even try to compre- 



THE STORY OF A FARM-GIRL 



45 



hend his meaning, for her thoughts were 
in a whirl, as if at the approach of 
some great danger; so after waiting for 
a few seconds, he went on: 

*'You see, a farm without a mistress 
can never succeed, even with a servant 
like you are." 

Then he stopped, for he did not know 
what else to say, and Rc:e looked at 
him with the air of a person who thinks 
that he is face to face with a murderer, 
and ready to flee at the slightest move- 
ment he may make; but after waiting 
for about five minutes, he asked her: 

"Well, will it suit you?" 

"Will ivhat suit me, master?" 

And he said, quickly: "Why, to marry 
me, by Jove!" 

She jumped up, but fell back on to 
her chair as if she had been struck, and 
there she remained motionless, like a 
person who is overwhelmed by some 
great misfortune. But at last the 
farmer grew impatient, and said: 
"Come, what more do you want?" 

She looked at him almost in terror; 
then suddenly the tears came into her 
eyes, and she said twice, in a choking 
voice: "I cannot, I cannot!" 

"Why not?" he asked. "Come, don't 
be silly ; I will give you until to-morrow 
to think it over." 

And he hurried out of the room, very 
glad to have finished a matter which 
had troubled him a good deal. He had 
no doubt that she would the next morn- 
ing accept a proposal which she could 
never have expected, and which would 
be a capital bargain for him, as he thus 
bound a woman to himself who would 
certainly bring him more than if she 
had the best dowry in the district. 

Neither could there be any scruples 



about an unequal match between them, 
for in the country everyone is very 
nearly equal. The farmer works just 
like his laborers do ; the latter frequently 
become masters in their turn, and the 
female servants constantly become the 
mistresses of the estabKshment, without 
making any change in their life or 
habits. 

Rose did not go to bed that night. 
She threw herself, dressed as she was, 
on to her bed, and she had not even 
strength to cry left in her, she was so 
thoroughly astonished. She remained 
quite inert, scarcely knowing that she 
had a body, and without being at all 
able to collect her thoughts, though at 
moments she remembered a part of that 
which had happened, and then she was 
frightened at the idea of what might 
happen. Her terror increased, and 
every time the great kitchen clock struck 
the hour, she broke into a perspiration 
from grief. She lost her head, and had 
a nightmare; her candle went out, and 
then she began to imagine that some 
one had thrown a spell over her, as 
country people so often fancy, and she 
felt a mad inclination to run away, to 
escape and flee before her misfortune, 
as a ship scuds before the wind. 

An owl hooted, and she shivered, sat 
up, put her hands to her face, into her 
hair, and all over her body, and then 
she went downstairs, as if she were 
walking in her sleep. When she got into 
the yard, she stooped down, so as not to 
be seen by any prowling scamp, for the 
moon, which was setting, shed a bright 
light over the fields. Instead of open- 
ing the gate, she scrambled over the 
fence, and as soon as she was outside, 
she started off. She went on straight 



46 



WORKS OP GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



before her, with a quick, elastic trot, 
and from time to time, she unconsci- 
ously uttered a piercing cry. Her long 
shadow accompanied her, and now and 
then some night-bird flew over her head, 
while th^ dogs in the farmyards barked, 
as they heard her pass. One even 
jumped over the ditch, followed her, 
and tried to bite her, but she turned 
round at it, and gav3 such a terrible yell 
that the frightened animal ran back, 
and cowered in silence in its kennel. 

The stars grew dim, and the birds 
began to twitter; day was breaking. 
The girl was worn out and panting, and 
Nhen the sun rose in the purple sky, she 
stopped, for her swollen feet refused to 
go any further. But she saw a pond 
in the distance, a large pond whose stag- 
nant water looked like blood under tht 
reflection of this new day, and she 
limped en with short step? and with her 
hand on her heart, in order to dip both 
her feet in it. 

She sat down on a tuft of grass, took 
eft her sabots which were full of dust, 
pulled off her stockings and plunged her 
legs into the still wp.ter, from which 
bubbles were rising here and there. 

A feeling of delicious coolness per- 
vaded her fnm head to foot, and sud- 
denly, while she was looking fixedly at 
the deep pool, ^he was seized with giddi- 
ness, and with a mad longing to throw 
herself into it. All her sufferings would 
be ovei in there; over forever. She no 
longer thought of her child; she only 
wanted peace, complete rest, and to 
sleep forever, and she got up with raised 
arms and took two steps forward. She 
was in the water up to her thighs, and 
she was just about to throw herself in, 
wLcD sharp, piit^klng pains m ber ankles 



Liadc her jump back. She uttered a 
cry Gi despair, for, from her knees to 
the tips 01 her feet, long, biac^; leeches 
were sucking in her Lie blood, nud were 
swelling, as they adhered to her flesh. 
She did n-^t dare to touch tiicm, and 
screamed with horror, so that her cries 
of despair attracted a peasant, who was 
driving along at some distance, to the 
spot. Ke pulled off the leeches, one by 
one, applied herbs to the wounds, and 
drove the girl to her master's farm, in 
his gig. 

She was in bed for a fortnight, and 
as she was sitting outside the door on 
the first morning that she got up, the 
farmer suddenly came and planted him- 
self before her. 

"Well," he said, '"I suppose the affair 
is settled, isn't it?" 

She did net reply at first, and then, 
as he remained standing and looking at 
her intently with his piercing eyes, she 
said with difficulty: "No, master, I can- 
not." 

But he immediately flew into a rage. 
"You cannot, girl; you cannot? I 
rhould just like to kno.v th3 reason 
why?'* 

She began to cry, and repeated: *'I 
cannot." 

He looked at her, and then exclaimed, 
angrily: "Then I suppose ycu have a 
lover?" 

"Perhaps that is it,'' she replied, trem- 
bling with shame. 

The man got as red as a poppy, and 
stammered out in a rage: "Ah! So you 
confess it, you slut! And pray who is 
the fellow? Some penniless, half- 
rtarved ragamuffin, without a roof to 
his head, I suppose? Who is it, I say?" 

And as she gave him no answer, he 



THE STORY OF A FARM-^GIRL 



49 



continued: **Ah! So you vill not tell 
me. Then 1 will tell ycu; it is Jean 
Bauda!" 

"No, not he," she exclaimed. 

**Thc:i it is Pierre Martin?" 

*'0h! no, master." 

And h3 angrily mentioned all the 
young fellows in the neighborhood, 
while she denied that he had hit upon 
the right ono, and every moment wiped 
her eyes wllh the corner of her blue 
apron. But ho still tr'ed to find it out, 
with h!s brutizh obstinacy, and, as it 
were, scratched her heart to discover 
her secret, as a tcrrior scratches at a 
hole to try and get at the animal which 
he scents in it. Suddenly, however, the 
man shouted: "By George! It is 
Jacques, the man who was here last year. 
They used to say that you were always 
talking together, and that you thought 
about getting married." 

Rose was choking, and she grew scar- 
let, while her tears suddenly stopped, 
and dried up on her cheeks, like drops 
of water on hot iron, and she exclaimed: 
**No, it is not he, it is not he!" 

*Ts that really a fact?" asked the cun- 
ning farmer, who partly guessed the 
truth, and she replied hastily: 

*T will swear it; I will swear it to 
you." She tried to think of something 
by whi:h to swear, as she did not dare 
to invoke sacred things. 

But he interrupted her: "At any rate, 
he used to follow you into every corner, 
and devoured you with his eyes at meal 
times. Did you ever give him your 
promise, eh?" 

This time she looked her master 
straight in the face. "No, never, never; 
I will solemnly swear to you, that if 
he were to come to-day and ask mo to 



marry him, I would have nothing to dc 
with him." 

She spoke with such an air of sin« 
cerity, that the farmer hesitated, and 
then he continued, as if speaking tc 
himseh*: ''What, then? Ycu have not 
had a Tnisforttme, as they call it, or it 
would have been known, and as it has 
no consequences, no girl would refuse 
her master on t'Lat account. There must 
be something at the bottom of it, how- 
ever." 

She could say nothing; she had not 
the strength to speak, and he asked her 
again: "You will not?" 

"I cannot, master," she said, with a 
sigh, and he turned on his heel. 

She thought sho had get rid of him 
altogether, and spent the rest of the day 
rlmost tranquilly, but as worn out as i* 
she, instead of the old white horse, had 
been turning the threshing machine all 
day. She went to bed as soon as she 
could, and fell asleep immediately. In 
the middle of the night, however, two 
hands touching the bed woke her. She 
trembled with fear, but sh3 immediately 
recognized the farmer's voice, when he 
said to her: "Don't be frightened. 
Rose; I have come to speak to you." 

She was surprised at first, but when 
he tried to take liberties with her, she 
understooc*. what be wanted, and began 
to tremble violently. She felt quite 
alone in the darkness, still hoavy from 
sleep, and quite unprotected, by the side 
of the man who stood near her. She 
certainly did not consent, but resisted 
carelessly, herself struggling against 
that instinct which is always strong in 
simple natures, and very imnerfectly 
protected, by the undecided w'll of an 
exhausted body. She turned her head 



48 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



now to the wall, and now toward the 
room, in order to avoid the attentions 
which the farmer tried to press on her, 
and her body writhed under the cover- 
let, weakened as she was by the fatigue 
of the struggle, while he became brutal, 
intoxicated by desire. 

They lived together as man and wife, 
and one morning he said to her: *1 
have put up our banns, and we will get 
married next month." 

She did not reply, for what could she 
say? She did not resist, for what could 
she do? 

IV. 

She married him. She felt as if she 
were in a pit with inaccessible edges, 
from which she could never get out, 
and all kinds of misfortunes remained 
hanging over her head, like huge rocks, 
which would fall on the first occasion. 
Her husband gave her the impression 
of a man whom she had stolen, and who 
would £nd it out some day or other. 
And then she thought of her child, who 
was the cause of her misfortunes, but 
was also the cause of all her happiness 
on earth. She went to see him twice a 
year, and she came back more unhappy 
each time. 

But she gradually grew accustomed 
to her life, her fears were allayed, her 
heart was at rest, and she lived with 
an easier mind, although still with some 
vague fear floating in her mind. So 
years went on, and the child was six. 
She was almost happy now. when sud- 
denly the farmer's temper grew very 
bad. 

For two or three years, he seemed to 
have been nursing some secret anxiety. 
to be troubled by some care, some men- 



tal disturbance, which was gradually in- 
creasing. He remained at table a long 
time after dinner, with his head in his 
hands, sad and devoured by sorrow. He 
always spoke hastily, sometimes even 
brutally, and it even seemed as if he 
bore a grudge against his wife, for at 
times he answered her roughly, almost 
angrily. 

One day, when a neighbor's boy came 
for some eggs, and she spoke rather 
crossly to him, for she was very busy, 
her husband suddenly came in, and said 
to her in his unpleasant voice: "If that 
were your own child, you would nol 
treat him so," 

She was hurt and did not reply, and 
then she went back into the house with 
all her grief awakened afresh. At din- 
ner, the farmer neither spoke to her nor 
looked at her, and seemed to hate her, 
to despise her, to know something about 
the affair at last. In consequence, she 
lost her head and did not venture to re- 
main alone with him after the meal was 
over, but left the room and hastened 
to the church. 

It was getting dusk; the narrow nave 
was in total darkness, but she heard 
footsteps in the choir, for the sacristan 
was preparing the tabernacle lamp for 
the night. That spot of trembling light, 
which was lost in the darkness of the 
arches, looked to Rose like her last 
hope, and with her eyes fixed on it, 
she fell on her knees. The chain rattled 
as the little lamps swung up into the air, 
and almost immediately the small bell 
rang out the "Angelus" through the in- 
creasing mist. She went up to him, as 
he was going out. 

"Is Monsieur le Cure at home?" she 
asked. 



THE STORY OF A FARM-GIRL 



4</ 



"Of course he is; this is his dinner- 
time." 

She trembled as she rang the bell of 
the parsonage. The priest was just 
sitting down to dinner, and he made her 
sit down also. **Yes, yes, I know all 
about it; your husband has mentioned 
the matter to me that brings you here." 

The poor woman nearly fainted, and 
the priest continued: "What do you 
want, my child?" And he hastily 
swallowed several spoonfuls of soup, 
some of which dropped on to his greasy 
cassock. But Rose did not venture to 
say anything more, but got up to go, 
while the priest said: "Courage." 

So she went out, and returned to the 
farm, without knowing what she was 
doing. The farmer was waiting for her, 
as the laborers had gone away during 
her absence, and she fell heavily at his 
feet, and shedding a flood of tears, she 
said to him: "What have you got 
against me?" 

He began to shout and to swear: 
"What have I got against you? That I 
have no children, by God! When a 
man takes a wife, he does not want to 
be left alone with her until the end of 
his days. That is what I have against 
you. When a cow has no calves, she is 
not worth anything, and when a woman 
has no children, she is also not worth 
anything." 

She beean to cry, and said: "It is not 
my fault! It is not my fault!" 

He grew rather more gentle when he 
heard that, and added: "I do not say 
that it is, but it is very annoying, all the 
same.'* 

V, 

From that day forward, she had only 
one thought — to have a child,, another 



child. She confided her w'sh to every- 
body, and in consequence of this, a 
neighbor told her of an infallible 
method. This was, to make her hus- 
band a glass of water with a pinch of 
ashes in it, every evening. The farmer 
consented to try it, but without success, 
so they said to each other: "Perhaps 
there are some secret ways?" And they 
tried to find out. They were told of a 
shepherd who lived ten leagues off, and 
so Vallin one day drove off to consult 
him. The shepherd gave him a loaf on 
which he had made some marks; it was 
kneaded up with herbs, and both of 
them were to eat a piece of it before 
and after their mutual caresses; but 
they ate the whole loaf without obtain- 
ing any results from it. 

Next, a schoolmaster unveiled mys- 
teries and processes of love which were 
unknown in the country, but infallible, 
so he declared; but none of them had 
the desired effect. Then the priest ad* 
vised them to make a pilgrimage to the 
shrine at Fecamp. Rose went with the 
crowd and prostrated herself in the 
abbey, and mingling her prayers wich 
the coarse wishes of the peasants around 
her, she prayed that she m^.ght be fruit- 
ful a second time; but it was in vain, 
and then she thought that she was be- 
ing punished for her first fault, and 
she was seized by terrible grief. She 
was wasting away wath sorrow: her hus- 
band was growing old prematurely, and 
was wearing himself out in useless 
hopes. 

Then war broke out between them; 
he called her names and beat her. They 
quarreled all day long, and when they 
were in bed together at night he flung 
insults and obscenities at her, panting 



50 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



with rage, until one night, not being 
able to think of any means of making 
her suffer more, he ordered her to get 
up and go and stand out of doors iu the 
rain, until dayLght. As she did not 
obey him, he seized her by the neck, 
and began to strike her in the face with 
his fists, but sne said nothing, and did 
not move. In his exasperation he knelt 
on her, and with clenched teeth and 
mad with rage began to beat her. Then 
in her despair she rebelled, and flinging 
him against the wall with a furious ges- 
ture, she sat up, and in an altered voice, 
she hissed: *T have had a child, I have 
had one! I had it by Jacques; you 
know Jacques well. He promised to 
marry me, but he left this neighborhood 
without keeping b!s word." 

The man was thunderstruck, and 
could hardly speak, but at last he 
stammered out: "What are you say- 
ing? What are you saying?" 

Then she began to sob, and amid her 
tears she said: 'That was the reason 
why 1 did not want to marry you. I 
could not tell you, for you would have 
left me without any bread for my 
child. You have never had any chil- 
dren, so you cannot understand, you 
cannot understand!" 

He said again, mechanically, with in- 
creasing surprise: "You have a child? 
You have a child?" 

'You won me by force, as I suppose 
you know. I did not want to marry 
you," she said, still sobbing. 

Then he got up, lighted the candle, 
and began to walk up and down, with 
bis arms behind him. She was cower- 
ing on the bed and crying, and sud- 
denly he stopped in front of her, and 



said: 'Then it is my fault that you 
have no children?" 

She gave him no answer, and he be- 
gan to walk up and down again, and 
then, stopping again, he continued: 
''How old is your child?" 

"Just six," she whispered. 

"Why did you not tell me about it?'* 
he asked. 

"How could I?" she replied, with a 
sigh. 

He remained standing, motionless. 
"Come, get up," he said. 

She got up, with some diuiculty, and 
then when she was standing on the floor, 
he suddenly began to bugh, with his 
hearty laugh of his good days, and see- 
ing how surprised she was, he added: 
"Very well, we will go and fetch the 
child, as you and I can have none to- 
gether." 

She was so scared that if she had the 
strength she would assuredly have run 
away, but the farmer rubbed his hands 
and said: "I wanted to adopt one, and 
now we have found one. I asked the, 
Cure about an orphan, some time ago." 

Then, still laughing, he kissed his 
weeping and agitated wife on both 
cheeks, and shouted out, as if she could 
not hear him: "Come along, mother, 
we will go and see whether there is any 
soup left; I should not mind a plateful." 

She put on her petticoat, and they 
went downstairs; and while she was 
kneeling in front of the fireplace, and 
lighting the fire under the saucepan, he 
continued to walk up and down the 
kitchen with long strides, and said: 
*'Wel], I aiii really glad at this; I am 
not saying it for form's sake, but I am 
glad, I am really very dad." 



In the Moonlight 



Well-merited was the name, "sol- 
dier of God," by the Abbe Marignan. 
He was a tall, thia priest, fanatical to 
a degree, but just, and of an exalted 
soul. All h^s beliefs were fixed, with 
never a waver. He thought that he un- 
derstocc! Gud thoroughly, that he pene- 
trated His designs. His wishes, His in- 
tentions. 

Striding up and down the garden walk 
of his little country parsonage, some- 
times a question arose in his mind: 
"Why did God make that?" Then in 
his thoughts, putting himself in God's 
place, he searched obstinately, and 
nearly always was satisfied that he 
found the reason. He was not th3 man 
to murmur in transports of pious hu- 
mility, "O Lord, thy ways are past 
finding out!" What he said was: "I am 
the servant of God; I ought to know 
the reason cf what he does, or to divine 
it if I do net." 

Everything in nature seemed to him 
created with an absolute and admirable 
logic. The "wherefore" and the "be- 
cause*' were always balanced. The 
dawns were made to rejoice you on 
waking, the days to ripen the harvests, 
the rains to water them, the evenirgs to 
prepare for sleeping, and the nights dark 
for sleep. 

The four seasons corresponded per- 
fectly to all the needs of agriculture; 
and to him the suspicion could never 
have come that nature has no inten- 
tion, and that all which lives has accus- 
tomed itself, en the contrary, to the 
hard conditions of different periods, of 
climates, and of matter. 

But he hated women; he hated them 



unconsciously, and despised them by 
instinct. He often repeated the words 
of Christ, "Woman, what have 1 to do 
''v.ith thee?" and he would add, "One 
v;ould almost say that God himself was 
ill-pleased with that particular work of 
Lis hands." Woman for him was indeed 
the "child twelve times unclean" of 
v/hom the poet speaks. She was the 
temptress who had ensnared the first 
man, and who still continued her dam- 
nable work; she was the being who is 
feeble, dangerous, mysteriously troub- 
lous. And even more than her poisonous 
beauty, he hated her loving soul. 

He had often felt women's tenderness 
attack him, and though he knew himself 
to be unassailable, he grew exasperated 
at this need cf loving which quivers 
continually in their hearts. 

To his mind, God had only created 
woman to tempt man and to test him. 
Man should not approach her without 
those precautions for defense which he 
would take, and the fears he would 
cherish, near an ambush. Woman, in- 
deed, was just like a trap, with her arms 
extended and her lips open toward a 
man. 

He had toleration only for nuns, ren- 
dered harmless by their vow; but he 
treated them harshly notwithstanding, 
because, ever at the bottom cf their 
chained-up hearts, their chastened 
hearts, he perceived the eternal tender- 
ness that constantly went out even to 
him, although he was a priest. 

He had a niece who lived with her 
mother in a little house near by. He 
was bent on making her a sister of 
charity. She was pretty and hare 



52 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



brained, and a great tease. When the 
abbe sermonized, she laughed; when he 
ras angry at her, she kissed him ve- 
hemently, pressing him to her heart, 
while he would seek involuntarily to 
free himself from her embrace. Not- 
withstanding, it made him taste a cer- 
tain sweet joy, awaking deep within him 
that sensation of fatherhood which 
slumbers in every man. 

Often he talked to her of God, of his 
God, walking beside her along the foot- 
paths through the fields. She hardly 
listened, but looked at the sky, the 
grass, the flowers, with a joy of living 
which covld be seen in her eyes. Some- 
times she rushed forward to catch some 
flying creature, and bringing it back 
would cry: "Look, my uncle, how 
pretty it is; I should like to kiss it." 
And this necessity to "kiss flies" or 
sweet flowers worried, irritated, and 
revolted the priest, who saw, even in 
that, the iiieradicable tenderness which 
ever springs in the hearts of women. 

One day the sacristan's wife, who 
kept house for the Abbe Marignan. told 
him, very cautiously, that his niece nad 
a lover! 

He experienced a dreadful emotion, 
and he stood choking, with the soap all 
over his face, in the act of shaving. 

When he found himself able to think 
and speak once more, he cried: "It is 
not true; you are lying, Melanie!" 

But the peasant woman put her hand 
on her heart; "May our Lord judge 
me if I am lying, Monsieur le Cure 
I tell you she goes to him every eve- 
ning as soon as your sister is in bed. 
They meet each other beside the river. 
You have only to so the^e between ten 



o'clock and midnight, and see for yeir- 
self." 

He ceased scratching his chin and 
commenced to pace the room quickly, 
as he always did in his hours of gravest 
thought. When he tried to begin his 
shaving again, he cut himself three 
times from nose to ear. 

All day long, he remained silent, 
swollen with anger and with rage. To 
his priestly zeal against the mighty 
power of love was added the moral in- 
dignation of a father, of a teacher, of a 
keeper of souls, who has been deceived, 
robbed, played with by a child. He felt 
the egotistical sorrow that parents feel 
when their daughter announces that she 
has chosen a husband without them 
and in spite of their advice. 

After his dinner, he tried to read a 
little, but he could not attune himself 
to it; and he grew angrier and angrier. 
When it struck ten, me took his cane, 
a formidable oaken club which he al- 
ways carried when he had to go out at 
night to visit the sick. Smilingly he 
regarded the enormous cudgel, holding 
it in his solid, countryman's fist and 
cutting threatening circles with it in the 
air. Then, suddenly, he raised it, and } 
grinding his teeth, he brought it down ' 
upon a chair, the back of which, split in . 
two, fell heavily to the ground. • 

He opened his door to go out ; but he 
stopped upon the threshold, surprised 
by such 3 splendor of moonlight as you ; 
seldom see. i 

Endowed as he was with an exalted i 
spirit, such a spirit as must have be- 
longed to those dreamer-poets, the 
Fathers of the Church, he felt himself 
suddenlv softened and moved by the 



IN THE MOONLIGHl 



06 



grand and serene beauty of the pale- 
faced night. 

In his little garden, bathed in the soft 
brilliance, his fruit-trees, all a-row, were 
outlining in shadow upon the walk their 
slender limbs of wood scarce clothed 
with green; while the giant honeysuckle 
climbing on the house wall exhaled 
delicious, sugared breaths, which 
hovered through the warm, clear night 
like a perfumed soul. 

He began to breathe deep, drinking 
the air as drunkards drink their wine, 
and walking slowly, ravished, surprised, 
and almost oblivious of his niece. 

As he stepped into the open country 
be stopped to contemplate the whole 
plain, inundated by this caressing radi- 
ance, and drowned in the tender and 
languishing charm of the serene night. 
In chorus the frogs threw into space 
their short, metallic notes, and with the 
seduction of the moonlight, distant 
nightingales mingled that fitful music 
of theirs which brings no thoughts but 
dreams, a light and vibrant melody 
which seems attuned to kisses. 

The abbe continued his walk, his 
courage failing, he knew not why. He 
felt, as it were, enfeebled, and sud- 
denly exhausted; he had a great desire 
to sit down, to pause right there and 
praise God in all His works. 

Below him, following the bends of 
the little river, wound a great line of 
poplars. On and about the banks, 
wrapping all the tortuous watercourse 
in a kind of light, transparent wadding, 
hung suspended a fine mist, a white va- 
por, which the moon-rays crossed, and 
silvered, and caused to gleam. 

The priest paused yet again, pene- 
trated to the depths of his soul by a 



strong and growing emouon. And a 

doubt, a vague uneasiness, seized on 
him; he felt that one of those questions 
he sometimes put to himself was now 
being born. 

Why had God done this? Since the 
night is destined for sleep, for uncon- 
sciousness, for repose, for forgetful- 
ness of everything, why, then, make it 
more charming than the day, sweeter 
than dawns and sunsets? And this slow, 
seductive star, more poetical than the 
sun and so discreet, that it seems 
designed to light up things too deli- 
cate, too mysterious, for the great 
luminary, — ^why had it come to 
brighten all the shades? Why did 
not the sweetest of all songsters go to 
rest like the others? Why set himself 
to singing in the vaguely troubling 
dark? Why this half -veil over the 
world? W^hy these quiverings of the 
heart, this emotion of the soul, this 
languor of the body? Why this display 
of seductions which mankind never sees, 
since night brings sleep? For whom 
was this sublime spectacle intended, this 
flood of poetry poured from heaven to 
earth? The abbe did not understand it 
at all. 

But then, down there along the edg3 
of the pasture appeared two shadows 
walking side by side under the arched 
roof of the trees all soaked in glittering 
mist. 

The man was the taller, and had his 
arm about his mistress's neck; from 
time to time he kissed her on the fore- 
head. They animated the lifeless land- 
scape which enveloped them, a divine 
frame made, as it were, expressly for 
them. They seemed these two, a single 
being, the being for whom this calm 



54 



WOrvKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



and silent night was destined; and they 
approached the priest like a living 
answer, the answer vouchsafed by his 
Master to his question. 

He stood stock-still, overwhelmed, 
and with a beating heart. He likened it 
to some Bible story, such as the loves 
of Rulh and Boaz, the accomplishment 
of the will of the Lord in one of those 
great scenes tall:ed of in holy writ. 
Through his head ran the versicles of 
the Song of Songs, the ardent cries, the 
calls of the body, all the passionate 
poetry of that poem which bums with 



tenderness and love. And he said to 
himself, "God perhaps has made such 
nights as this to clothe with his ideals 
the loves cf men." 

He withdrew before the couple, who 
went on arm in arm. It was really his 
niece; and now he asked himself if he 
had not been about to disobey God 
For does not God indeed permit love, 
since He surrounds it visibly with splen- 
dor such as this? 

And he fled, in amaze, almost 
ashamed, as if he had penetrated intr 
a temple where he nad no right to entei 



Mme. Tellier's Excursion 



Men went there every evening at 
about eleven o'clock, just as they went 
to the caje. Six or eight of them used 
to meet there; always the same set, not 
fast men, but respectable tradesmen, and 
young men in government or some other 
employ; and they used to drink their 
Chartreuse, and tease the girls, or else 
they would talk seriously with Madame, 
whom everybody respected, and then 
would go home at twelve o'clock! The 
younger men would sometimes stay the 
night. 

It was a small, comfortable house, at 
the corner of a street beliind Saint 
Etienne's church. From the windows 
one could see the docks, full of ships 
which were being unloaded, and on the 
hill the old, gray chapel, dedicated to 
the Virgin. 

Madame, who came of a respectable 
family of peasant proprietors in the de- 
partment of the Eure, had taken up her 



profession, just as she would have be^ 
come a milliner or dressmaker. The 
prejudice against prostitution, which is 
so violent and deeply rooted in large 
towns, does not exist in the country 
places in Normandy. The peasant 
simply says: "It is a paying business,'' 
and sends his daughter to keep a harem 
of fast girls, just as he would send her 
to keep a girls' school. 

She had inherited the house from an ' 
old uncle, to whom it had belonged. . 
Monsieur and Madame who had for- i 
merly been innkeepers near Yvetot, had , 
immediately sold their house, as they 
thought that the business at Fecamp 
was more profitable. They arrived one 
fine morning to assume the direction of 
the enterprise, which was declining on 
account of the absence of a head. They 
were good people enough in iheir way, 
and soon m.ade themselves liked by theii 
staff and their neighbors- 



MME. TTLLILRS EXCURSION 



53 



Monsieui died of apoplexy two years 
later, for as his new profession kept him 
in idleness and without exercise, hj nad 
grown excessively stout, and his health 
had suffered. Since Madame had been a 
widow, all the frequenters ot the estab- 
lishment had wanted her; but people said 
that personally she was quite virtuous, 
and even the girls in the house could not 
discover anything against her. She was 
tall, stout, and affable, and her com- 
plexion, which had become pale in the 
dimness of her house, the shutters of 
which were scarcely ever opened, shone 
as if it had been varnished. She had a 
fringe of curly, false hair, v/hich gave 
her a juvenile look, which in turn con- 
trasted strongly with her matronly fig- 
ure. She was always smiling and cheer- 
ful, and was fond of a joke, but there 
was a shade of reserve about her which 
her new occupation had not quite made 
her lose. Coarse words always shocked 
her, and when ary young fellow who 
had been badly brought up called her 
establishment by its right name, she was 
angry and disgusted. 

In a word, she had a refined mJnd, 
and although she treated her women as 
friends, yet she very frequently used to 
say that she and they were not made of 
the same stuff. 

Sometimes during the week she would 
hire a carriage and take some of her 
girls into the country, where they used 
to enjoy themselves on the grass by the 
side of the little river. They behaved 
like a lot of girls let out from a school, 
and used to run races, and play childish 
games. They would have a cold dinner 
on the grass, and drink cider, and go 
home at night with a delicious feeling 
of fatigue, and in the carriage kiss 



Madame as a kind mother who v;as iuD 
of goodness and complaisance. 

The house had two entrances. At the 
corner there was a sort of low caje, 
v.'hich sailors and the lower orders fre- 
quented at night, and she had two girb 
v;hose special duty it was to attend to 
that part of the business. With the as- 
sistance of the waiter, whose name was 
Frederic, and who was a short, light- 
haired, beardless fellow, as strong as a 
horse, they set the half bottles of wine 
and the jugs of beer on the shaky 
marble tables and then, sitting astride 
on the customers' knees, would urge 
them to drink. 

The three other girls (there were only 
five in all), formed a kind of aristocracy, 
and were reserved for the company on 
the first floor, unless they were wanted 
downstairs, and there was nobody on the 
first floor. The salon of Jupiter, where 
the tradesmen used to meet, was papered 
in blue, and embellished with a large 
drawing representing Leda stretched out 
under the swan. That room was reached 
by a winding staircase, which ended «it a 
narrow door opening on to the street, 
end above it, all night lorg a little lamp 
burned, behind wire bars, such as one 
still sees in some towns, at the foot of 
the shrine of some saint. 

The house, which was old and damp, 
rather smelled of mildew. At times 
there was an odor of eau de Cologne 
in the passages, or a half open door 
downstairs allowed the nuise of the com- 
mon men sitting and drinking down- 
stairs to reach the fi-st floor, much to 
the disgust of the gentlemen who were 
there. Madame, who v/as quite familiar 
with those of her customers with whom 
she was on friendly terms, did not leave 



56 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



the salon. She took much interest in 
what was going on in the town, and they 
regularly told her all the news. Her 
serious conversation was a change from 
the ceaseless chatter of the three wo- 
men; it was a rest from the doubtful 
jokes of those stout individuals who 
every evening indulged in the common- 
place am^usement of drinking a glass of 
liquor in company with girls of easy 
virtue. 

The names of the girls on the first 
floor were Fernande, Raphaelle, and 
Rosa "the Jade." As the staff was 
limited, Madame had endeavored that 
each member of it should be a pattern, 
an epitome of each feminine type, so 
that every customer might find as nearly 
as possible, the realization of his ideal. 
Fernande represented the handsome 
blonde; she was very tall, rather fat, and 
lazy; a country girl, who could not get 
rid of her freckles, and whose short, 
light, almost colorless, tow-like hair, 
which was like combed-out flax, barely 
covered her head. 

Raphaelle, who came from Marseilles, 
played the indispensable part of the 
handsome Jewess. She was thin, with 
high cheek-bones covered with rouge, 
and her black hair, which was always 
covered with pomatum, curled on to her 
forehead. Her eyes would have been 
handsome, if the right one had not had 
a speck in it. Her Roman nose came 
down over a square jaw, where two false 
upper teeth contrasted strangely with 
the bad color of the rest. 

Rosa the Jade was a little roll of fat, 
nearly all stomach, with very short legs. 
From morning till night she sang songs, 
which were alternately indecent or senti- 
mental, in a harsh voice, told silly, in- 



terminable tales, and only stopped talk- 
ing in order to eat, or left off eating in 
order to talk. She was never still, was 
as active as a squirrel, in spite of her 
fat and her short legs; and her laugh, 
which was a torrent of shrill cries, re- 
sounded here and there, ceaselessly, in a 
bedroom, in the loft, in the caji, every* 
where, and always about nothing. 

The two women on the ground floor 
were Louise, who was nicknamed "la 
Cocotte,"* and Flora, whom they called 
"Balangiere,"t because she limped a 
little. The former always dressed as 
Liberty, with a tri-colored sash, and the 
other as a Spanish woman, with a string 
of copper coins which jingled at every 
step she took, in her carroty hair. Both 
looked like cooks dressed up for the 
carnival, and were like all other women 
of the lower orders, neither uglier nor 
better looking than they usually are. In 
fact they looked just like servants at an 
inn, and were generally called "the Two 
Pumps." 

A jealous peace, very rarely dis- 
turbed, reigned among these five women, 
thanks to Madame's conciliatory wisdom 
and to her constant good humor; and 
the establishment, which was the only 
one of the kind in the little town, was 
very much frequented. Madam.e had 
succeeded in giving it such a respectable 
appearance; she was so amiable and 
obliging to everybody, her good heart 
was so well known, that she was treated 
with a certain amount of consideration. 
The regular customers spent money on 
her, and were delighted when she was es- 
pecially friendly toward them. When 
they met during the day, they would 



* Slang for a lady of easy virtue. 
fSwing, or seesaw. 



MME. TELLIER'S EXCURSION 



5) 



fcay: "This evening, you know where," 
just as men say: "At the cafe, after 
dinner." In a word Madame Tellier's 
house was somewhere to go to, and her 
customers very rarely missed their daily 
meetings there. 

One evening, toward the end of May, 
the first arrival. Monsieur Poulin, who 
was a timber merchant, and had been 
mayor, found the door shut. The little 
lantern behind the grating was not 
alight; ♦iere was not a sound in the 
house; everything seemed dead. He 
knocked, gently at first, and then more 
loudly, but nobody answered the door. 
Then he went slowly up the street, and 
when he got to the market place, he met 
Monsieur Duvert, the gun-maker, who 
was going to the same place, so they 
went back together, but did not meet 
with any better success. But suddenly 
they heard a loud noise close to them, 
and on going round the corner of the 
house, they saw a number of English 
and French sailors, who were hammer- 
ing at the closed shutters of the caj6 
with their fists. 

The two tradesmen immediately made 
their escape, for fear of being com- 
promised, but a low Pst stopped them; 
it was Monsieur Tournevau, the fish- 
curer, who had recognized them, and 
was trying to attract their attention. 
They told him what hM happened, and 
he was all the more vexed at it, ^.s he, a 
married man, and father of a family, 
only went there on Saturdays — securi^ 
talis cajisa, as he said, alluding to a 
measure of sanitary policy, which his 
friend Doctor Borde had advised him to 
observe. That was his regular evening, 
and now he would be deprived of it for 
the whole week. 



The three men went as far as the quay 
together, and on the way they met young 
Monsieur Phillippe, the banker's son, 
who frequented the place regularly, and 
Monsieur Pinipesse, the collector. They 
all returned to the Rue aux Juifs to- 
gether, to make a last attempt. But the 
exasperated sailors were besieging the 
house, throwing stones at the shutters, 
and shouting, and the five first-floor cus- 
tomers went away as quickly as possible, 
and walked aimlessly about the streets. 

Presently they met Monsieur Dupuis, 
the insurance agent, and then Monsieur 
Vassi, the Judge of the Tribunal of 
Commerce, and they all took a long 
walk, going to the pier first of all. 
There they sat down in a row on the 
granite parapet, and watched the rising 
tide, and when the promenaders had sat 
there for some time. Monsieur Tourne- 
vau said: *This is not very amusing!" 

"Decidedly not," Monsieur Pinipesse 
replied, and they started off to walk 
again. 

After going through the sti-eet on the 
top of the hill, they returned over the 
wooden bridge which crosses the Re- 
tenue, passed close to the railway, and 
came out again on to the market place, 
when suddenly a quarrel arose between 
Monsieur Pinipesse and Monsieur Tour- 
nevau, about an edible fungus which one 
of them declared he had found in the 
neighborhood. 

As they were out of temper already 
from annoyance, they would very prob- 
ably have come to blows, if the others 
had not interfered. Monsieur Pinipesse 
went off furious, and soon another alter- 
cation arose between the ex-mayor. 
Monsieur Poulin, and Monsieur Dupuis, 
the insurance agent, on the subject of 



58 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



the tax-collector's salary, and the profits 
which he might make. Insulting re- 
marks were ireely passing between them, 
j^'hen a torrent of formidable cries were 
heard, and th*^ body of sailors, who were 
tired of waiting so long outside a closed 
house, came into the square. They were 
walkmg arm-in-arm, two and two, and 
formed a long procession, and were 
shouting furiously. The landsmen went 
and hid themselves under a gateway, and 
the yelling crew disappeared in the di- 
rection of the abbey. For a long time 
they still heard the noise, which di- 
minished like a storm in the distance, 
and then silence was restored. Mon- 
sieur Poulin and Monsieur Dupuis, who 
were enraged with each other, went in 
different directions, without wishing each 
other good-bye. 

The other four set off again, and in- 
stinctively went in the direction of 
Madame Tellier's establishment, which 
was still closed, silent, impenetrable. A 
<juiet, but obstinate, drunken man was 
knocking at the door of the cafS; then 
he stopped and called Frederic, the 
waiter, in a low voice, but finding that 
he got no answei, he sat down on the 
doorstep, and awaited the course of 
events. 

The others were just going to retire, 
when the noisy band of sailors reap- 
peared at the end of the street. The 
French sailors were shouting the "Mar- 
seillaise," and the Englishmen, "Rule 
Britannia." There was a general lurch- 
ing against the wall, and then the drunk- 
en brutes went on their way toward 
the quay, where a fight broke out be- 
tween the two nations, in the course of 
which an Englishman had his arm bro- 
ken, and a Frenchman his nose split. 



The drunken man, who had stopped 
outside the door, was crying by tliis 
time, as drunken men and children cry 
when they are vexed, and the others 
wen^ away. By degrees, calm was re- 
stored in the noisy town ; here and there, 
at moments, the distant sound of voices 
could be heard, only to die away in the 
distance. 

One man was still wandering about, 
Monsieur Tournevau, the fish-curer, who 
was vexed at having to wait until the 
next Saturday. He hoped for some- 
thing to turn up, he did not know what; 
but he was exasperated at the police 
for thus allowing an establishment of 
such public utility, which they had un- 
der their control, to be thus closed. 

He went back to it, examined the 
walls, and tried to find out the reason. 
On the shutter he saw a notice stuck up, 
so he struck a wax vesta, and read the 
following, in a large, uneven hand: 
"C'oced on account of the Confirma- 
tion." 

Then he went away, as he saw it was 
useless to remain, and left the drunken 
man lying on the pavement fast asleep, 
outside the inhospitable door. 

The next day, all the regular cus- 
tomers, one after the other, found some 
reason for going through the Rue aux 
Juifs with a bundle of papers under their 
arm, to keep them in countenance, and 
with a furtive glance they all read that 
mysterious notice: 

"Closed on Account of the 
Confirmation." 



n. 



Madame had a brother, who was a 
carpenter in their native place, Virville, 



MME. TIXLILrv'S ZXCU?vCION 



50 



in the department of Euro. V/hen 
Madame had still kept the inn at Yvetot, 
she had stood godmother to that 
brother's dnu-liter, who had received the 
name of Constance, Constance Rivet; 
she herself being a Rivet on her father's 
side. The carpenter, who knew that his 
sister was in a good position, did not 
lose sight of her, although they did not 
meet often, as they were both kept at 
home by their occunations, and lived a 
long way from each other. But when 
the girl was twelve years old, and about 
to be confirmed, he seized the oppor- 
tunity to wrile to his sister, and ask her 
to come and be present at the cere- 
mony. Their old parents were dead, and 
as Madame could not well refuse, she 
accepted the invitation. I-er brother, 
whose name was Joseph, hoped that by 
dint of showing his sister attentions, she 
might be induced to make her will in 
the girl's favor, as she had no children 
of her own. 

His sister's occupation did not 
trouble his scruples in the least, and, be- 
sides, nobody knew anything about it at 
Virville. When they spoke of her, they 
only said : "Madame Tellier is living at 
Fecamp," which might mean that she 
was living on her own private income. 
It was quite twenty leagues from 
Fecamp to Virville, and for a peasant, 
twenty leagues on land are more than is 
crossing the ocean to an educated per- 
son. The people at Virville had never 
beon further than Rouen, and nothing 
attracted the people from Fecamp to a 
village of five hundred houses, in the 
middle of a plain, and situated in an- 
other department. At any rate, noth- 
ing was known about her business. 

But the Confirmation was coming on 



and Madame was in great embarrass- 
ment. She had no undei-mistress, and 
did not at all dare to leave her house, 
even for a day. She feared the rivalries 
between the girls upstairs and those 
downstairs would certainly break out; 
that Frederic would get drunk, for when 
he was in that state, he would knock 
anybody down for a mere word. At 
last, however, she made up her mind to 
take them all with her, with the excep- 
tion of the man, to whom she gave a 
holiday, until the next day but one. 

When she asked her brother, he made 
no objection, but undertook to put them 
all up for a night. So on Saturday 
morning the eight o'clock express car- 
ried off Madame and her companions in 
a second-class carriage. As far as Beu- 
zeille they were alone, and chattered 
like magpies, but at that station a couple 
got in. The man, an aged peasant 
dressed in a blue blouse with a folding 
collar, wide sleeves tight at the wrist, 
and ornamented with white embroidery, 
wore an old high hat with long nap. 
He held an enormous green umbrella in 
one hand, and a large basket in the 
other, from which the heads of three 
frightened ducks protruded. The wo- 
man, who sat stiffly in her rustic finery, 
had a face like a fowl, and with a nose 
that was as pointed as a bill. She sat 
down opposite her husband and did not 
stir, as she was startled at finding her- 
self in such smart company. 

There was certainly an array of strik- 
ing colors in the carriage. Madame was 
dressed in blue silk from head to foot, 
and had over her dress a dazzling red 
shawl of imitation French cashmere. 
Fernande was panting in a Scottish plaid 
dress, whose bodice, which her com- 



60 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



panions had laced as tight as they could, 
had forced up her falling bosom into a 
double dome, that was continually heav- 
ing up and down, and which seemed 
Hquid beneath the material. Raphaelle, 
with a bonnet covered with feathers, so 
that it looked like a nest full ui birds, 
had on a luxe dress with gold spots on 
it; there was something Oriental about 
it that suited her Jewish face. Rosa 
the Jade had on a pink petticoat with 
large flounces, and looked like a very fat 
child, an obese dwarf; while the Two 
Pumps looked as if they had cut their 
dresses out of old, flowered curtains, 
dating from the Restoration. 

Perceiving that they were no longer 
alone in the compartment, the ladies put 
on staid looks, and began to talk of 
subjects which might give the others a 
high opinion of them. But at Bolbec a 
gentleman with light whiskers, with a 
gold chain, and wearing two or three 
rings, got in, and put several parcels 
wrapped in oil cloth into the net over 
his head. He looked inclined for a joke, 
and a good-natured ii^low. 

"Are you ladies changing your quar- 
ters?" he asked. The question em- 
barrassed them all considerably. Ma- 
dame, however, quickly recovered her 
composure, and said sharply, to avenge 
the honor of her corps : 

*'I think you might try and be polite!" 

He excused himself, and said: *T 
beg your pardon, I ought to have said 
your nunnery." 

As Madame could not think of a re- 
tort, or perhaps as she thought herself 
justified sufficiently, she gave him a dig- 
nified bow, and pinched in her lips. 

Then the gentleman, who was sitting 
between Rosa the Jade and the old peas- 



ant, began to wink knowingly at the 
ducks, whose heads were sticking out of 
the basket. When he felt that he ha.6 
fixed the attention of his pubUc, he be- 
gan to tickle them under their bills, and 
spoke funnily to them, to make the 
company smile. 

"We have left our little pond, qu-ack! 
qu-ack ! to make the acquaintance of the 
little spit, qu-ack! qu-ack!" 

The unfortunate creatures turned their 
necks away to avoid his caresses, and 
made desperate efforts to get out of their 
wicker prison, and then, suddenly, all at 
once, uttered the most lamentable quacks 
of distress. The women exploded with 
laughter. They leaned forward and 
pushed each other, so as to see better; 
they were very much interested in the 
ducks, and the gentleman redoubled hi; 
airs, his wit, and his teasing. 

Rosa joined in, and leaning over hei 
neighbor's legs, she kissed the three ani* 
mals on the head. Immediately all the 
girls wanted to kiss them in turn, and 
the gentleman took them on to his knees, 
made them jump up and down and 
pinched them. The two peasants, who 
were even in greater consternation than 
their poultry, rolled their eyes as if they 
were possessed, without venturing to 
move, and their old wrinkled faces had 
not a smile nor a movement. 

Then the gentleman, who was a com- 
mercial traveler, offered the ladies braces 
by way of a joke and taking up one of 
his packages, he opened it. It was a 
trick, for the parcel contained garters. 
There were blue silk, pink silk, red silk, 
violet silk, mauve silk garters, and the 
buckles were made of two gilt metal 
Cupids, embracing each other. The girls 
uttered exclamations of delight, and 



MME. TELLIER'S EXCURSlO-N 



<5( 



looked at them with that gravity which 
is natural to a woman when she is han- 
kering after a bargain. They consulted 
one another by their looks or in a whis- 
per, and replied in the same manner, and 
Madame was longingly handling a pair of 
orange garters that were broader and 
more imposing than the rest; really fit 
for the mistress of such an establish- 
ment. 

"Come, my kittens," he said, "you 
must try them on." 

There was a torrent of exclamations, 
and they squeezed their petticoats be- 
tween their legs, as if they thought he 
was going to ravish them, but he quietly 
waited his time, and said: "Well, if you 
will not, I shall pack them up again." 

And he added cunningly: "I offer 
any pair they like, to those who will try 
them on." 

But they would y.ot, and sat up very 
straight, and looked dignified. 

But the Two Pumps looked so dis- 
tressed that he renewed the offer to 
them. Flora especially hesitated, and he 
pressed her: 

"Come, my dear, a little courage! 
Just look at that lilac pair; it will suit 
your dress admirably." 

That decided her, and pulling up her 
dress she showed a thick leg fit for a 
milk-maid, in a badly-fitting, coarse 
stocking. The commercial traveler 
stooped down and fastened the garter 
below the knee first of all and then 
above it; and he tickled the girl gently, 
which made her scream and jump. 
When he had done, he gave her the lilac 
pair, and asked: "Who next?" 

"I! I!" they all shouted at once, and 
he began on Rosa the Jade, who un- 
covered a shapeless, round thing with- 



out any ankle, a regular "sausage of a 
leg," as Raphaelle used to say. 

The commercial traveler compli- 
mented Fernande, and grew quite en- 
thusiastic over her powerful columns. 

The thin tibias of the handsome 
Jewess met with less flattery, and Louise 
Cocotte, by way of a joke, put her petti- 
coats over the man's head, so that 
Madame was obliged to interfere to 
check such unseemly behavior. 

Lastly, Madame herself put out her 
leg, a handsome, muscular, Norman leg, 
and in his surprise and pleasure the 
commercial traveler gallantly took off 
his hat to salute that master calf, like a 
true French cavalier. 

The two peasants, who were speech- 
less from surprise, looked askance, out 
of the corners of their eyes. They 
looked so exactly like fowls, that the 
man with the light whiskers, when he 
sat up, said "Co — co — ri — co," under 
their very noses, and that gave rise to 
another storm of amusement. 

The old people got out at Motteville, 
with their basket, their ducks, and their 
umbrella, and they heard the v/oman 
say to her husband, as they went away : 

"They are sluts, who are off to that 
cursed place, Paris." 

The funny commercial traveler him- 
self got out at Rouen, after behaving 
so coarsely that Madame was obliged 
sharply to put him into his right place. 
She added, as a moral: "This will teach 
us not to talk to the first comer." 

At Oissel they changed trains, and at 
a little station further on Monsieur 
Joseph Rivet was waiting for them with 
a large cart and a number of chairs in 
it, which was drawn by a white horse. 

The carpenter politely kissed all the 



62 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



ladies, and then helped them into his 
conveyance. 

Three of them sat on three chairs at 
the back, Raphaelle, Madame, and her 
brother on the three chairs in front, and 
Rosa, who had no seat, settled herself as 
comfortably as rhe could on tall Fer- 
nande's knees, and then they set off. 

But the horse's jerky trot shook the 
cart so terribly, that the chairs began 
to dance, throwing the travelers into the 
air, to the right and to the left, as if 
they had been dancing puppets. This 
made them make horrible grimaces and 
screams, which, however, were cut short 
by another jolt of the cart. 

They clung to the sides of the vehicle, 
their bonnets fell on to their backs, 
their noses on their shoulders, and the 
white horse trotted on, stretching out his 
head and holding out his tail quite 
straight, a little hairless rat's tail, with 
which he whisked his buttocks from 
time to time. 

Joseph Rivet, with one leg on the 
shafts and the other bent under him, 
held the reins with elbows high and kept 
uttering a kind of chuckling sound, 
which made the horse prick up its ears 
and go faster. 

The green country extended on either 
side of the road, and here and there the 
:olza in flower presented a waving ex- 
panse of yellow, from which there arose 
1 strong, wholesome, sweet and pene- 
tnting smell, which the wind carried to 
some distaii' r. 

The cornflowers showed their little 
blue heads among the rye, and the wo- 
men wanted to pick them, but Monsieur 
Rivet refused to stop. 

Then sometimes a whole field ap- 
^i^eared to be covered with blood, so 



thickly v/ere the poppies growing, and 
the cart, which looked as if it were filled 
with flowers of more brilliant hue, drove 
on through the fields colored with wild 
flowers, to disappear behind the trees 
of a farm, then to reappear and go on 
again through the yellow or green stand- 
ing crops studded with red or blue. 

One o'clock struck as they drove up 
to the carpenter's door. They were tired 
out, and very hungry, as they had eater 
nothing since they left home. Madame 
Rivet ran out, and made them alight, 
one after another, kissing them as soon 
as they were on the ground. She 
seemed as if she would never tire of 
kissing her sister-in-law, whom she ap- 
parently wanted to monopolize. They 
had lunch in the workshop, which had 
been cleared out for the next day's 
dinner. 

A capital omelette, followed by boiled 
chitterlings, and washed down by good, 
sharp cider, made them all feel comfort- 
able. 

Rivet had taken a glass so that he 
might hob-nob with them, and his wife 
cooked, waited on them, brought in the 
dishes, took them out, and asked all of 
them in a whisper whether they had 
everything they wanted. A number ot 
boards standing against the walls, and 
heaps of shavings that had been swept 
into the corners, gave out the smell 
of planed wood, of carpentering, that 
resinous odor which penetrates the lungs. 

They wanted to see the little girl, but 
she had gone to church, and would not 
be back until evening, so they all went 
out for a stroll in the country. 

Jt was a small village, through which 
the high road passed. Ter or a dozen 
houses on either side of the single street 



MME. TELLIER^S EXCURSION 



63 



had for tenants the butcher, the grocer, 
the carpenter, the innkeeper, the shoe- 
maker, and the baker, and others. 

The church was at the end of the 
street. It was surrounded by a small 
churchyard, and four enormous lime- 
trees, which stood just outside the 
porch, shaded it completely. It was 
built of flint, in no particular style, and 
had a slated steeple. When you got past 
it, you were in the open country again, 
which was broken here and there by 
clumps of trees which hid some home- 
stead. 

Rivet had given his arm to his sister, 
out of politeness, although he was in his 
working clothes, and was walking with 
her majestically. His wife, who was 
overwhelmed by Raphaelle's gold-striped 
dress, was walking between her and Fer- 
nande, and rotund Rosa was trotting be- 
hind with Louise Cocotte and Flora, the 
seesaw, who was limping along, quite 
tired out. 

The inhabitants came to their doors, 
the children left off playing, and a win- 
dow curtain would be raised, so as to 
show a muslin cap, while an old woman 
with a crutch, who was almost blind, 
crossed herself as if it were a religious 
procession. They all looked for a long 
time after those handsome ladies from 
the town, who tad come so far to be 
present at the confirmation of Joseph 
Rivet's little girl, and the carpenter rose 
very much in the public estimation. 

.\$ they passed the church, they heard 
some children singing; little shrill voices 
were singing a hymn, but Madame would 
not let them go in, for fear of disturbing 
the little cherubs. 

After a walk, during which Joseph 
Rivet enumerated the principal landed 



proprietors, spoke about the yield of the 
land, and the productiveness of the cows 
and sheep, he took his flock of women 
home and installed them in his house, 
and as it was very small, he had put 
tliem into the rooms, two and two. 

Just ,^or once, Rivet would sleep in 
tlie workshop on the shavings; his wife 
was going to share her bed with her 
sister-in-law, and Fernande and Ra- 
phaelle were to sleep together in the 
next room. Louise and Flora were put 
into the kitchen, where they had a mat- 
tress on the floor, and Rosa had a little 
dark cupboard at the top of the stairs 
to herself, close to the loft, where the 
candidate for confirmation was to sleep. 

When the girl came in, she was over- 
whelmed with kisses; all the women 
wished to caress her, wi^h that need oi 
tender expansion, that habit of profes- 
sional wheedling, which had made them 
kiss the ducks in the railway carriage. 

They took her on to their laps, 
stroked her soft, light hair, and pressed 
her in their arms with vehement and 
rpontaneous outbursts of affection, and 
the child, who was very good-natured 
and docile, bore it all patiently. 

As the day had been a fatiguing one 
for everybody, they all went to bed 
soon after dinner. The whole village 
was wrapped in that perfect stillness of 
the country, which is almost like a re- 
ligious silence, and the girls who were 
accustomed to the noisy evenings o\ 
their establishment, felt rather impressed 
by the perfect repose of the sleeping 
village. They shivered, not with cold, but 
with those little shivers of solitude 
which come ove^ uneasy and troiiblec^ 
hearts, 

A.« soon as they were in be J. two and 



64 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



two together, they clasped each other 
in their arms, as if to protect them- 
selves against this feeling of the calm 
and profound slumber of the earth. 
But Rosa the Jade, who was alone in 
her little dark cupboard, felt a vague 
and painful emotion come over her. 

She was tossing about in bed, unable 
to get to sleep, when she heard the 
faint sobs of a crying child close to her 
head, through the partition. She was 
frightened, and called out, and was an- 
swered by a weak voice, broken by sobs. 
It was the little girl who, being used to 
sleeping in her mother's room, was 
frightened in her small attic. 

Rosa was delighted, got up softly so 
as not to awaken anyone, and went and 
fetched the child. She took her into 
her warm bed, kissed her and pressed 
her to her bosom, caressed her, lavished 
exaggerated manifestations of tender- 
ness on her, and at last grew calmer her- 
self and went to sleep. And till morn- 
ing, the candidate for confirmation slept 
with her head on Rosa's naked bosom. 

At five o'clock, the little church bell 
ringing the "Angelus" woke these women 
up, who as a rule slept the whole morn- 
ing long. 

The peasants were up already, and 
the women went busily from house to 
house, carefully bringing short, starched, 
muslin dresses in bandboxes, or very 
long wax tapers, with a bow of silk 
fringed with gold in the middle, and 
with dents in the wax for the fingers. 

The sun was already high in the blue 
sky, which still had a rosy tint toward 
the horizon, like a faint trace of dawn, 
remaining. Families of fov;ls were 
walking about the henhouses, and here 
and there a black cock, with a glistening 



breast, raised his head, crowned by his 
red comb, flapped his wings, and uttered 
his shrill crow, which the other cocks 
repeated. 

Vehicles of all sorts came from neigh- 
boring parishes, and discharged tall, 
Norman women, in dark dresses, with 
neck-handkerchiefs crossed over the 
bosom, and fastened with silver 
brooches, a hundred years old. 

The men had put on blouses over their 
new frock coats, or over their old dress 
coats of green cloth, the tails of which 
hung down below their blouses. When 
the horses were in the stable, there was 
a double line of rustic conveyances along 
the road; carts, cabriolets, tilburies, 
char-a-bancs, traps of every shape and 
age, resting on their shafts, or pointing 
them in the air 

The carpenter's house was as busy 
as a beehive. The ladies, in dressing 
jackets and petticoats, with their long, 
thin, light hair, which locked as if it 
were faded and w^orn by dyeing, were 
busy dressing the child, who was stand- 
ing motionless on a table, while Madame 
Tellier was directing the movements of 
her battalion. They washed her, did 
her hair, dressed her, and with the help 
of a number of pins, they arranged the 
folds of her dress, and took in the waist, 
v;hich was too large. 

Then, when she was ready, she was 
told to sit down and not to move, and 
the women hurried off to get ready 
themselves. 

The church bell began to ring again, 
and its tinkle was lost in the air, like a 
feeble voice which is soon drowned in 
space. The candidates came out of the 
houses, and went toward the parochial 
building which contained the school and 



MME. TELLIERS EXCURSION 



o5 



the mansion house. This stood quite at 
one end of the village, while the church 
was situated at the other. 

The parents, in their very best clothes, 
followed their children with awkward 
looks, and with the clumsy movemexits 
of bodies that are always bent at work. 

The little girls disappeared in a cloud 
of muslin, which looked like whipped 
cream, while the lads, who looked like 
embryo waiters in a cafe, and whose 
heads shone with pomatum, walked with 
their legs apart, so as not to get any 
dust or dirt on to their black trousers. 

It vas something for the family to be 
proud of; a large number of relatives 
from distant parts surrounded the child, 
and, consequently, the carpenter's 
triumph was complete. 

Madame Tellier's regiment, with its 
mistress at its head, followed Constance; 
her father gave his arm to his sister, 
her mother walked by the side of Ra- 
phaelle, Fernande with Rosa, and the 
Two Pumps together. Thus they walked 
majestically through the village, like a 
general's staff in full uniform, while the 
effect on the village was startling. 

At the school, the girls arranged them.- 
selves under the Sister of Mercy, and 
the boys under the schoolmaster, and 
they started off, singing a hymn as they 
went. The boys led the way, in two 
files, between the two rows of vehicles, 
from which the horses had been taken 
out, and the girls followed in the same 
order. As all the people in the village 
had given the town ladies the precedence 
out of politeness, they came immediately 
behind the girls, and lengthened the 
double line of the procession still more, 
three on the light and three on the left, 



while their dresses were as striking as a 
bouquet of fireworks. 

When they went into the church, the 
congregation grew quite excited. They 
pressed against each other, they turned 
round, they jostled one another in order 
to see. Some of the devout ones almost 
spoke aloud, so astonished were they at 
the sight of these ladies, whose dresses 
were trimmed more elaborately than the 
priest's chasuble. 

The Mayor offered them his pew, the 
first one on the right, close to the choir, 
and Madame Tellier sat there with her 
sister-in-law; Fernande and Raphaelle, 
Rosa the Jade, and the Two Pumps 
occupied the second seat, in company 
with the carpenter. 

The choir was full of kneeling chil- 
dren, the girls on one side, and the boys 
on the other, and the long wax tapers 
which they held, looked like lances, 
pointing in all directions. Three men 
were standing in front of the lectum, 
singing as loud as they could. 

They prolonged the syllables of the 
sonorous Latin indefinitely, holding on 
to the Amens with interminable a — a's, 
which the serpent of the organ kept up 
in the monotonous, long-drawn-out 
notes, emitted by the deep-throated 
pipes. 

A child's shrill voice took up the reply, 
and from time to time a priest sittmg 
in a stall and wearing a biretta, got up, 
muttered something, and sat down again. 
The three singers continued, with their 
eyes fixed on the big book of plain-song 
lying open before them on the out- 
stretched wings of an eagle, mounted on 
a pivot. 

Then silence ensued. The service 
went on, and toward the end of it, 



66 



VvORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



Rosa, with her head in both her hands, 
suddenly thought of her mother, and her 
village church on 2. similar occasion. 
She almost fancied that that day had 
returned, when she was so small, and 
almost hidden in her white dress, and 
she began to cry. 

First of all she wept silently, the tears 
dropped slowly from her eyes, but her 
emotion increased with her recollections, 
and she began to sob. She took out her 
pocket-handkerchief, wiped her eyes, 
and help it to her mouth, so as not to 
scream, but it was useless. 

A sort of rattle escaped her throaf, 
and she was answered by two other pro- 
found, heart-breaking sobs; for her two 
neighbors, Louise and Flora, who were 
kneeling near her, overcome by similar 
recollections, were sobbing by her side. 
There was a flood of tears, and as weep- 
ing is contagious, Madame soon found 
that her eyes were wet, and on turning 
to her sister-in-law, she saw tha: all the 
occupants of the pew were crying. 

Soon, throughout the church, here and 
there, a wife, a mother, a sister, seized 
by the strange sympathy of poignant 
emotion, and agitated by the grief of 
those handsome ladies on their knees, 
who were shaken by their sobs, was 
tnoistenmg her camibric pocket-handker- 
chief, and pressing her beating heart 
with her left hand. 

Just as the sparks from an engine will 
set fire to dry grass, so the tears of 
Rosa and of her companions infected 
the whole congregation in a moment. 
Men, women, old men. and lads in new 
blouses were soon sobbing; something 
superhuman seemed to be hovering over 
their heads — a spirit, the oowerful 



breath of an invisible and ail-powerfit. 
being. 

Suddenly a species of madness seemed 
to pervade the church, the noise of a 
crowd in a state of frenzy, a tempest of 
sobs and of stifled cries. It passed over 
the people like gusts of wind which 
bow the trees in a forest, and the priest, 
overcome by emotion, stammered out 
incoherent prayers, those inarticulate 
prayers of the soul, when it soarj 
toward heaven. 

The people behind him gradually grew 
calmer. The cantors, in all the dignity 
of their white surplices, went on in 
somewhat uncertain voices, and the or- 
gan itself seemed hoarse, as if the instru- 
ment had been weeping. The priest, 
however, raised his hand, as a sign for 
them to be still, and went to the chan- 
cel steps. All were silent, immediately. 

After a few remarks on what bad just 
taken place, which he attributed to a 
miracle, he continued, turning to the 
seats where the carpenter's guests were 
sitting : 

"I especially thank you, my dear sis- 
ters, who have come from such a dis- 
tance, and whose presence among us, 
whose evident faith and ardent piety 
have set such a salutary example to all 
You have edified my parish; your emo- 
tion has warmed all hearts; without you 
this day would not, perhaps, have had 
this really div'ne character. It is suffi- 
cient, at times, that there should be 
one chosen to keep in the flock, to 
make tHe whole flock blessed." 

His voice failed him again, from emo- 
tion and he said no more, but concluded 
the service. 

Thev all left the church as nuickly as 
Dussible: the children themselves were 



MME. TELLIER'S EXCURSION 



ev 



restless, tired with such a prolonged ten- 
sion of the mind. Besides, the elders 
were hungry, and one after another left 
the churchyard, to see about dinner. 

There was a crowd outside, a noisy 
crowd, a babel of loud voices, in which 
the shrill Norman accent was discern- 
ible. The villagers formed two ranks, 
and when the children appeared, each 
family seized their own. 

The whole houseful of women caught 
hold of Constance, surrounded her and 
kissed her, and Rosa was especially 
demonstrative. At last she took hold of 
one hand, while Madame Tellier held the 
other, and Raphaelle and Fernande held 
up her long muslin petticoat, so that it 
might not dr^g in the dust. Louise and 
Flora brcu::ht up the rear with Madame 
Rivet, and the child, who was very silent 
and thoughtful, set off home, in the 
oiidst of this guard of honor. 

The ainner was served in th2 work- 
shop, on lorxg Doards supported by 
trestles, and through the open door they 
could see all the enjoyment that was go- 
ing on. Everywhere people were feast- 
ing; throuj^h every window could be 
seen tabl?s surrounded by people in their 
Sunday clothes. There was merriment 
in eve»-y house — men sitting in their 
shirt sleeves, drinking cider, glass after 
glass. 

In the carpenter's house the gaiety 
took on somewhat of an air of reserve, 
the consequence of the emotion of the 
girls in the morning. Rivet was the 
only one who was in good cue, and ne 
was drinking to excess. Madame 
rellier was looking at the clock every 
moment, for, in order not to lose tA'O 
days following, they ought to take the 



3.55 train, which would bimg them to 
Fecamp by dark. 

The carpenter tried very hard to dis- 
tract her attention, ro as to keep his 
guests until the next day. But he did 
not succeed, for she never joked when 
there was business to be done, and as 
soon as they had had their coffee she or- 
dred her girls to make haste and get 
ready. Then, turning to her brother, 
she said: 

"You must have the horse put in im- 
mediately," and she herself went to com- 
plete her preparations. 

When she came down again, her 
sister-in-law was waiting to speak to 
her about the child, and a long conver- 
£.ition took place, in which, however, 
nothing was settled. The carpenter*s 
wife finessed, and pretended to b2 very 
much moved, and Madame Tcllicr, who 
was holding the girl on her knees, would 
not pledge herself to anything definite, 
but merely gave vague promises: she 
would not forget her, there was plenty 
of time, and then, they were sure to 
meet again. 

But the conveyance did not come to 
the door, and the women did not come 
downstairs. Upstairs, they even heard 
loud laughter, falls, little screams, and 
much clapping of hands, and so, while 
the carpenter's wife v;ent to the stable 
to see whether the cart was ready, 
Madame went upstairs. 

Rivet, who was very drunk and hall 
undressed, was vainly trying to kiss 
Rosa, who was choking with laughter. 
The Two Pumps were holding him by 
the arms and trying to calm him, as thej 
were shocked at such a scene after tha'c 
morning's ceremony; but Raphaelle and 
Fernande were urging him on, writhing 



6^ 



\mRKhi OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



and holding their sides with laughter, 
and they uttered shrill cries at every 
useless attempt that the drunken fellow 
made. 

The man was furious, his face was 
red, his dress disordered, and he was 
trying to shake off the two women who 
were clinging to him, while he was pull- 
ing Rosa's bodice, with all his might, 
and ejaculating: ''Won't you, you 
slut?" 

But Madame, who was very indignant, 
went up to her brother, seized him by 
the shoulders, and threw him out of the 
room with such violence that he fell 
against a wall in the passage, and a 
minute afterward, they heard him pump- 
ing water on to his head in the yard. 
When he came back with the cart, he 
was already quite calmed down. 

They seated themselves in the same 
way as they had done the day before, 
4nd the little white horse started off with 
his quick, dancing trot. Under the hot 
sun, their fun, which had been cliecked 
during dinner, broke out again. The girls 
now were amused at the jolts which the 
wagon gave, pushed their neighbors' 
chairs, and burst out laughing every mo- 
ment, for they were in the vein for it, 
after Rivet's vain attempt. 

There was a haze over the country, 
the roads were glaring, and dazzled their 
eyes. The wheels raised up two trails 
of dust, which followed the cart for a 
long time alon^ the highroad, and pres- 
ently Fernande, who wa3 fond of music, 
asked Rosa to sing something. She 
boldly struck up the "Gros Cure de 
Meudon," b^Jt Madame made her stop 
immediately as she thought it a song 
wh'.ch was very unsuitable for such a 
day. Had r;dded: 



"Sing us something of Beranger's." 
After a moment's hesitation, Rosa be- 
gan Beranger's song, "The Grand- 
mother," in her worn-out voice, and aU 
the girls, and even Madame herself, 
joined in the chorus: 

"How I regret 

My dimpled arms, 
My well-made legs, 

And my vanished charms!'* 

"Tliat is first-rate," Rivet declared, 
carried away by the rhythm! They 
shouted the refrain to every verse, while 
Rivet beat time on the shafts with his 
foot, and on the horse's back with the 
reins. The animal, himself, carried away 
by the rhythm, broke into a wild gallop, 
and threw all the women in a heap, one 
on top of the other, in the bottom of 
the conveyance. 

They got up, laughing as if they were 
crazy, and the song went on, shouted at 
the top of their voices, beneath the 
burning sky and among the ripening 
grain, to the rapid gallop of the little 
horse, who set off every time the re- 
frain was sung, and galloped a hundred 
yards, to their great delight. Occasion- 
ally a stone breaker by the roadside 
sat up, and looked at the wild and shout- 
ing female load, through his wire spec- 
tacles. 

When they got out at the station, the 
carpenter said: 

'T am sorry you are going; we might 
have had some fun together." 

But Madame replied very sensibly: 
"Everything has its right time, and we 
cannot always be enjoying ourselves." 

And then he had a sudden inspiration: 
"Look here, I will come and see you 
at Fecamp next month." And he gave 



MME. TELLIER'S EXCURSION 



6C 



a knowing look, with his bright and 
roguish eyes. 

"Come," Madame said, "you must be 
sensible; you may come if you like, but 
you are not to be up to any of your 
tricks." 

He did not reply, and as they heard 
the whistle of the train he immediately 
began to kiss them all. When it came 
to Rosa's turn, he tried to get to her 
mouth, which she, however, smiling 
with her lips closed, turned away from 
him each time by a rapid movement of 
her head to one side. He held her in 
his arms, but he could not attain his 
object, as his large whip, which he was 
holding in his hand and waving behind 
the girl's back in desperation, interfered 
with his efforts. 

"Passengers for Rouen, take your 
seats, please!" a guard cried, and they 
got in. There was a slight whistle fol- 
lowed by a loud one from the engine, 
which noisily puffed out its first jet of 
steam, while the wheels began to turn a 
little, with visible effort. Rivet left the 
station and went to the gate by the side 
of the line to get another look at Rosa, 
and as the carriage full of human mer- 
chandise passed him, he began to crack 
his whip and to jump, singing at the 
top of his voice : 

"How I regret 

My dimpled arms, 
My well-made legs, 
And my vanished charms 1" 

And then he watched a white pocket- 
handkerchief, which somebody was 
waving, as it disappeared in the dis- 
tance. 



III. 

They slept the peaceful sleep of quiet 
consciences, until they got to 'Rouen» 
When they returned to the house, re- 
freshed and rested, Madame could not 
help saying: 

"It was all very well, but I was al- 
ready longing to get home." 

They hurried over their supper, and 
then, when they had put on their usual 
light evening costumes, waited for their 
usual customers. The little colored lamp 
outside the door told the passers-by that 
the flock had returned to the fold, and 
in a moment the news spread, nobody 
knew how, or by whom. 

Monsieur Philippe, the banker's son, 
even carried his audacity so * far as to 
send a special messenger to Monsieur 
Tournevau who was in the bosom of his 
family. 

The fish-curer used every Sunday to 
have several cousins to dinner, and they 
were having coffee, when a man came in 
with a letter in his hand. Monsieur 
Tournevau was much excited ; he opened 
the envelope and grew pale ; it only con- 
tained these words in pencil: 

"The cargo of fish has been found ; the 
ship has come into port; good business 
for you. Come immediately." 

He felt in his pockets, gave the mes- 
senger two-pence, and suddenly blushing 
to his ears, he said: "I must go out." 
He handed his wife the laconic and mys* 
terious note, rang the bell, and when the 
servant came in, he asked her to bring 
him his hat and overcoat immediately, 
As soon as he was in the street, he be- 
gan to run, and the way seemed to him 



70 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



to be twice as long as usual, in conse- 
quence of his impatience. 

Madame Teilier's establishment had 
put on quite a holiday look. On the 
ground Hoor, a number of sailors were 
making a deafening noise, and Louise 
and Flora drank with one and the other, 
so as to merit their name of the Two 
Pumps more than ever. They were be- 
ing called for everywhere at once; al- 
ready they weiti not quite sober enough 
for theii business, and the night bid 
fair to be a very jolly one. 

The upstairs room was full by nine 
o'clock. Monsieur Vassi, the Judge of 
the Tribunal of Commerce, Madame's 
usual Platonic wooer, was talking to her 
in a corner, in a low voice, and they 
were both smiling, as if they were about 
to come to an understanding. 

Monsieur Poulin, the ex-mayor, was 
holding Rosa on his knees; and she, 
with her nose close to his, was running 
\ier hands through the old gentleman's 
white whiskers. 

Tall Fernande, who was lying on the 
sofa, had both her feet on Monsieur 
Pinipesse the tax-collector's stomach, 
and her back on young Monsieur 
Philippe's waistcoat; her right arm was 
round his neck, and she held a cigarette 
in ner left. 

Raphaelle appeared to be discussing 
matters with Monsieur Depuis, the in- 
surance agent, and she finished by say- 
ing: "Yes, my dear, I will." 

Just then, the door opened suddenly, 
and Monsieur Tournevau came in. He 
was greeted with enthusiastic cries of: 
"Long live Tournevau!" and Raphaelle, 
who was twirling round, went and threw 
herself into his arms. He seized her in 
a vigorous embrace, and without saying 



a word, lifting her up as if she had 
been a feather, he carried her through 
the room. 

Rosa was chatting to the ex-mayor, 
kissing him every moment, and pulling 
both his whiskers at the same time in 
order to keep his head straight. 

Fernande and Madame remained with 
the four men, and Monsieur Philippe 
exclaimed: "I will pay for some 
champagne; get three bottles, Madame 
Tellier." And Fernande gave him a 
hug, and whispered to him: "Play us 
a waltz, will you?" So he rose and sat 
do^n at the old piano in the corner, and 
managed to get a hoarse waltz out of 
the entrails of the instrument. 

The tall girl put her arms round the 
tax-collector, Madame asked Monsieur 
Vassi to take her in his arms, and the 
two couples turned round, kissing as 
the> danced. Monsieur Vassi, who had 
formerly danced in good society, waltzed 
with such elegance that Madame was 
quite captivated. 

Frederic brought the champagne; the 
first cork popped, and Monsieur Philippe 
played the introduction to a quadrille, 
through which the four dancers walked 
in society fashion, decorously, with pro- 
priety of deportment, with bows, and 
curtsies, and then they began to drink. 

Monsieur Philippe next struck up a 
lively polka, and Monsieur Tournevau 
started off with the handsome Jewess, 
whom he held up in the air, without 
letting her feet touch the ground. Mon- 
sieur Pinipesse and Monsieur Vassi had 
started off with renewed vigor and from 
time to time one or other couple would 
stop to toss off a long glass of sparkling 
wine. The dance was threatening to be- 



LOVE 



71 



come never-ending, when Rosa opened 
the door. 

"I want to dance," she exclaimed. 
And she caught hold of Monsieur 
Dupuis, who v.T.s sitting idle on the 
couch, and the dance began again. 

But the bottles were empty. "I will 
pay for one." Monsieur Tournevau said. 

"So will I," ^lonsieur Vas:i declared. 

*'And I will do the same," Monsieur 
Dupuis remarked. 

They all began to clap their hands, 
and it soon became a regular ball. From 
time to time, Louise and Flora ran up- 
stairs quickly, had a few turns while 
their customers downstairs grew im- 
patient, and then they returned regret- 



fully to the cafe. At midnight they 
were still dancing. 

Madame shut her eyes to what wast 
going on, and she had long private talks 
in comers with Monsieur Vassi, as if to 
settle the last details of something that 
had already been agreed upon. 

At last, at one o'clock, the two married 
men, Monsieur Tournevau and Monsieur 
Pinipesse, declared that they were going 
home, and wanted to pay. Nothing was 
charged for except the champagne, and 
that only cost six francs a bottle, in- 
stead of ten. which was the usual price, 
and when they expressed their surprise 
at such generosity, Madame, who was 
beaming, said to them: 

"We don't have a holiday every day.** 



Love 



THREE PAGES FROM A SPORTSMAN'S BOOK 
I HAVE just read among the general 
news in one of the papers a drama of 
passion. He killed her and then he 
killed himself, so he must have loved 
her. What matters He or She? Their 
love alone matters to me; and it does 
not interest me because it moves me 
or astonishes me, or because it softens 
me or makes me think, but because it re- 
calls to my mind a remembrance of 
my youth, a strange recollection of a 
hunting adventure where Love appeared 
io me, as the Cross appeared to the early 
Christians, in the midst of the heavens. 
I was born with all the instincts and 
the senses of primitive man, tempered 
by the arguments and the restraints of 
a civilized beinp:. I am passionately 



fond of shooting, yet the sight of the 
wounded animal, of the blood on its 
feathers and on my hands, affects my 
heart so as almost to make it stop. 

That year the cold weather set in 
suddenly toward the end of autumn, and 
I was invited by one of my cousins^ 
Karl de Rauville, to go with him and 
shoot ducks on the marshes, at day- 
break. 

My cousin was a jolly fellow of forty, 
with red hair, very stout and bearded, 
a country gentleman, an amiable semi- 
brute, of a happy disposition and en- 
dowed with that Gallic wit which makes 
even mediocrity agreeable. He lived in 
a house, half farm-house, half chateau, 
situated in a broad valley through 
which a river ran. The bills right and 



72 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



left were covered with woods, old 
manorial woods where magnificent trees 
still remained, and where the rarest 
feathered game in that part of France 
was to be found. Eagles were shot 
there occasionally, and birds of pas- 
sage, such as rarely venture into our 
over-populated part of the country, in- 
variably lighted amid these giant oaks, 
as if they knew or recognized some 
little corner of a primeval forest which 
had remained there to serve them as 
a shelter during their short nocturnal 
halt. 

In the valley there were large mea- 
dows watered by trenches and separated 
by hedges; then, further on, the river, 
which up to that point had been kept 
between banks, expanded into a vast 
marsh. That marsh was the best shoot- 
ing ground I ever saw. It was my 
cousin's chief care, and he kept it as a 
preserve. Through the rushes that 
covered it, and made it rustling and 
rough, narrow passages had been cut, 
through which the flat-bottomed boats, 
impelled and steered by poles, passed 
along silently over dead water, brush- 
ing up against the reeds and making the 
swift fish take refuge in the weeds, and 
the wild fowl, with their pointed, black 
heads, dive suddenly. 

I am passionately fond of the water: 
of the sea, though it is too vast, too 
full of movement, impossible to hold; 
of the rivers which are so beautiful, but 
which pass on, and flee away; and above 
all of the marshes, where the whole un- 
known existence of aquatic animals pal- 
pitates. The marsh is an entire world 
in itself on the world of earth — a differ- 
ent world, which has its own life, its 
settled inhabitants and its passing 



travelers, its voices, its noises, and above 
all its mystery. Nothing is more im- 
pressive, nothing more disquieting, more 
terrifying occasionally, than a fen. 
Why should a vague terror hang over 
these low plains covered with v;ater? 
Is it the low rusthng of the rushes, the 
strange will-o'-the-wisp lights, the 
silence which prevails on calm nights, 
the still mists which hang over the sur- 
face like a shroud; or is it the almost 
inaudible splashing, so sHght and so 
gentle, yet sometimes more terrifying 
than the cannons of men or the thunders 
of the skies, which make these marshes 
resemble countries one has dreamed of, 
terrible countries holding an unknown 
and dangerous secret? 

No, something else belongs to it — 
another mystery, perhaps the mystery 
of the creation itself! For was it not 
in stagnant and muddy water, amid the 
heavy humidity of moist land under the 
heat of the sun, that the first germ of 
life pulsated and expanded to the day? 

I arrived at my cousin's in the eve- 
ning. It was freezing hard enough to 
split the stones. 

During dinner, in the large room 
whose sideboards, walls, and ceiling were 
covered with stuffed birds, with wings 
extended or perched on branches to 
which they were nailed, — ^hawks, herons 
owls, nightjars, buzzards, tiercels, vul* 
tures, falcons, — my cousin who, dressed 
in a sealskin jacket, himself resembled 
some strange animal from a cold coun- 
try, told me what preparations lie had 
made for that same night. 

We were to start at half past three 
in the morning, so as to arrive at the 
place which he had chosen for our 



LOVE 



n 



"watching-place at about half past four. 
On that spot a hut had been built of 
lumps of ice, so as to shelter us some- 
what from the trying wind which pre- 
cedes daybreak, a wind so cold as to 
tear the flesh like a saw, cut it like the 
blade of a knife, prick it like a poisoned 
sting, twist it like a pair of pincers, 
and burn it like fire. 

My cousin rubbed his hands: *i 
have never known such a frost," he 
said; "it is already twelve degrees be- 
low zero at six o'clock in the evening." 
I threw myself on to my bed imme- 
diately after we had finished our meal, 
and went to sleep by the light of a bright 
fire burning in the grate. 

At three o'clock he woke me. In 
my turn, I put on a sheepskin, and 
found my cousin Karl covered with a 
bearskin. After having each swallowed 
two cups of scalding coffee, followed 
by glasses of liqueur brandy, we started, 
accompanied by a gamekeeper and our 
dogs, Plongeon and Pierrot. 

From the first moment that I got 
outside, I felt chilled to the very mar- 
row. It was one of those nights on 
which the earth seems dead with cold. 
The frozen air becomes resisting and 
palpable, such pain does it cause; no 
breath of wind moves it, it is fixed and 
motionless; it bites you, pierces through 
you, dries you, kills the trees, the plants, 
the insects, the small birds themselves, 
who fall from the branches on to the 
hard ground, and become stiff themselves 
under the grip of the cold. 

The moon, which was in her last quar- 
ter and was inclining all to one side, 
seemed fainting in the midst of space, 
so weak that she was unable to wane, 
forced to stay up yonder, seized and 



paralyzed by the severity of the weather. 
She shed a cold, mournful light over 
the world, that dyin^ and wan light 
which she gives us every month, at the 
end of her period. 

Karl and I walked side by side, our 
backs bent, our hands in our pockets and 
our guns under our arms. Our boots 
which were wrapped in wool so that 
we might be able to walk without slip- 
ping on the frozen river, made no sound, 
and I looked at the white vapor which 
our dogs' breath made. 

We were soon on the edge of the 
marsh, and entered one of the lanes of 
dry rushes which ran through the lo\« 
forest. 

Our elbows, which touched the long, 
ribbonlike leaves, left a slight noise be- 
hind us, and I was seized, as I had 
never been before, by the powerful and 
singular emotion which marshes cause 
m me. This one was dead, dead from 
cold, since we were walking on it, in 
the middle of its population of dried 
rushes. 

Suddenly, at the turn of one of the 
lanes, I perceived the ice-hut which had 
been constructed to shelter us. I went 
in, and as we had r early an hour to 
wait before the wandering birds would 
awake, I rolled myself up in my rug in 
order to try and get warm. Then, ly- 
ing on my back, I began to look at 
the misshapen moon, which had four 
horns through the vaguely transparent 
walls of this polar house. But the frost 
of the frozen marshes, the cold of these 
walls, the cold from the firmament 
penetrated me so terribly that I began 
to cough. My cousin Karl became un- 
easy. 

"No matter if we do not kill much to* 



74 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



day/* he said: "I do not want you to 
catch cold; we will light a fire." And 
he told the gamekeeper to cut some 
rushes. 

We made a pile in the middle of our 
hut which had a hole in the middle of 
the roof to let out the smoke, and when 
the red flames rose up to the clear, 
crystal blocks they began to melt, 
gently, imperceptibly, as if they were 
sweating. Karl, who had remained out- 
side, called out to me: "Come and look 
here!" I went out of the hut and re- 
mained struck with astonishment. Our 
hut, in the shape of a cone, looked like 
an enormous diamond with a heart of 
fire, which had been suddenly planted 
there in the midst of the frozen water 
of the marsh. And inside, we saw two 
fantastic forms, those of our dogs, who 
were warming themselves at the fire. 

But a peculiar cry, a lost, a wander- 
ing cry, passed over our heads, and the 
light from our hearth showed us the wild 
birds. Nothing moves one so much as 
the first clamor of a life which one does 
not ^ee, which passes through the som- 
ber air so quickly and so far off, just 
before the first streak of a winter's day 
appears on the horizon. It seems to 
me, at this glacial hour of dawn, as if 
that passing cry which is carried away 
by the wings of a bird is the si^h of a 
joul from the world! 

•Tut out the fire," said Karl, "it is 
getting daylight." 

The sky was, in fact, beginning to 
grow pale, and the flights of ducks made 
long, rapid streaks which were soon ob- 
literated on the sky. 

A stream of light burst out into the 
night; Karl had fired, and the two dogs 
fan forv.ard. 



And then, nearly every minute, now 
he, now I, aimed rapidly as soon as the 
shadow of a flying flock appeared above 
the rushes. And Pierrot and PlongeoR, 
out of breath but happy, retrieved the 
bleeding birds, whose eyes still, oc» 
casionclly, looked at us. 

The sun had risen, and it was a bright 
day with a blue sky, and we were think- 
ing of taking our departure, when two 
birds with extended necks and out- 
stretched wings, glided rapidly over out 
heads. I fired, and one of them fell 
almost at my feet. It was a teal, with a 
silver breast, and then, in the blue space 
above me, I heard a voice, the voice of 
a bird. It was a short, repeated, heart- 
rending lament; and the bird, the little 
animal that had been spared began to 
turn round in the blue sky, over our 
heads, looking at its dead companiou 
which I was holding in my hand. 

Karl was on his knees, his gun to his 
shoulder watching it eagerly, until it 
should be within shot. "You have killed 
the duck," he said, "and the drake will 
not fly away." 

He certainly did not fly away; he 
circled over our heads continually, and 
continued his cries. Never heve any 
groans of suffering pained rr.e so much 
as that desolate appeal, as that lament- 
able reproach of this poor bird which 
was lost in space. 

Occasionally he took flight under the 
menace of the gun which followed his 
movements, and seemed ready to con- 
tinue his flight alone, but as he could 
not make up his mind to this, he re- 
turned to find his mate. 

"Leave her on the ground," Karl said 
to me, "he will come within shot bv 
and by." And he did indeed come neai 



MADEMOISELLE FIFI 



75 



us, careless of danger, infatuated by his 
animal love, by his affection for his 
mate, which I had just killed. 

Karl fired, and it was as if somebody 
bad cut the string which held the bird 
suspended. I saw something black de- 



scend, and I heard the noise of a fall 
among the rushes. And Pierrot brought 
it to me. 

I put them — they were already cold — 
into the same game-bag, and I returned 
to Paris the same evening. 



Mademoiselle Fiji 



The Major Graf* von Farlsberg, the 
Prussian commandant, was rcaa^ng his 
newspaper, lying back in a great arm- 
chair, with his booted feet on the beau- 
tiful marble fireplace, where his spurs 
had made two holes, which grew deeper 
every day, during the three months that 
he had been in the chateau of Urville. 

A cup of coffee was smoking on a 
small, inlaid table, which was stained 
with liquors, burnt by cigars, notched by 
the penknife of the victorious officer, 
who occ::sionally wodd stop while 
sharpening a pencil, to jot down figures, 
or to make a drawing on it, just a? it 
took his fancy. 

When he had read his letters and the 
German newspapers, which his baggagc- 
fraster had brought him, he got up, and 
after throwing three or four enormous 
pieces of green wood on to the fire — for 
these gentlemen were gradually cutting 
down the park in ordei to keep them- 
selves warm — ^he went to the window. 
The rain was descending in torrents, 
a regular Normandy rain, which looked 
as if it were being poured out by some 
furious hand, a slanting rain, which was 
as thick as a curtain, and which formed 
a kind of wail with oblique stripes, and 
which deluged everything, a regular 



rain, such as one frequently experiences 
in the neighborhood of Rouen, which 
is the watering-pot of France. 

For a long time the officer looked at 
the sodden turf, and at the swollen 
Andelle beyond it, which was overflow- 
ing its banks, and he was drumming a 
waltz from tne Rhine on the window- 
panes, with his fingers, when a noise 
made him turn round; it was his second 
in command, Captain Baron von Kel- 
weinstein. 

The major was a giant, with broad 
shoulders, and a long, fair beard, which 
hung like a cloth on to his chest. His 
whole, solemn person suggested the idea 
of a military peacock, a peacock who 
was carrying his tail spread out en to his 
breast. He had cold, gentle, blue eyes, 
and the scar from a sword-cut, which 
he had received in the war with Austria ; 
he was said to be an honorable man, a& 
v.'cU as a brave officer. 

The captain, in short, red-faced man, 
vv^ho was tightly girthed in at the waist, 
had his red hair cropped quite close to 
his head, and in certain lights almost 
looked as if he had been rubbed over 
with phosphorus. He had lost two front 



*Count 



76 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



teeth one night, though he could not 
quite remember how. This defect made 
him speak so that he could not always be 
understood, and he had a bald patch on 
the top of his head, which made him 
look rather like a monk, with a fringe of 
curly, bright, golden hair round the 
circle of bare skin. 

The commandant shook hands with 
him, and drank his cup of coffee (the 
sixth that morning) at a draught, while 
he listened to his subordinate's report 
of what had occurred; and then they 
both went to the window, and declared 
that it was a very unpleasant outlook. 
The major, who was a quiet man, with 
a wife at home, could accommodate 
himself to everything; but the captain, 
who was rather fast, being in the habit 
of frequenting low resorts, and much 
given to women, was mad at having 
been shut up for three months in the 
compulsory chastity of that wretched 
hole. 

There was a knock at the door, and 
when the commandant said, "Come in,'* 
one of their automatic soldiers appeared, 
and by his mere presence announced 
that breakfast was ready. In the dining- 
room, they met three other officers of 
lower rank: a lieutenant, Otto von 
Grossling, and two sub-lieutenants, Fritz 
Scheunebarg, and Count von Eyrick, 
a very short, fair-haired man, who was 
proud and brutal toward men, harsh 
toward prisoners, and very violent. 

Since he had been in France, his com- 
rades had called him nothing but 
"Mademoiselle Fifi." They had given 
him that nickname on account of his 
dandified style and small waist, which 
looked as if he wore stays, from his 
Dale face, on which his budding mus- 



tache scarcely showed, and on account 
of the habit he had acquired of em- 
ploying the French expression, ^, ji 
done, which he pronounced with a shght 
whistle, v/hen he wished to express his 
sovereign contempt for persons or 
things. 

The dining-room of the chateau was a 
magnificent long room, whose fine old 
mirrors, now cracked by pistol bullets, 
and Flemish tapestry, now cut to rib- 
bons and hanging in rags in places, from 
sword-cuts, told too well w^hat Ma- 
demoiselle Fifi's occupation was during 
his spare time. 

There were three family portraits on 
the walls; a steel-clad knight, a cardinal, 
and a judge, who v/ere all smoking long 
porcelain pipes, which had been inserted 
into holes in the canvas, while a lady 
in a long, pointed waist proudly ex- 
hibited an enormous pair of mustaches, 
drawn with a piece of charcoal. 

The officers ate their breakfast al- 
most in silence in that mutilated room, 
which looked dull in the rain, and mel- 
ancholy under its vanquished appear- 
ance, although its old, oak floor had be- 
come as solid as the stone floor of a 
public-house. 

When they had finished eating, and 
were smoking and drinking, they began, 
as usual, to talk about the dull life they 
were leading. The bottle of brandy 
and of liquors passed from hand to hand, 
and all sat back in their chairs, taking 
repeated sips from their glasses, and 
scarcely removing the long, bent stems, 
which terminated in china bowls painted 
in a manner to delight a Hottentot, from 
their mouths. 

As soon as their glasses were empty, 
they filled them again, with a gesture 



MADEMOISELLE FIFI 



n 



of resigned weariness, but Mademoiselle 
Fifi emptied his every minute, and a 
soldier immediately gave him another. 
They were enveloped in a cloud of 
strong tobacco smoke; they seemed to 
be sunk in a state of drowsy, stupid in- 
toxication, in that dull state of drunk- 
enness of men who have nothing to do, 
when suddenly, the baron sat up, and 
said: "By heavens! This cannot £jo 
on; we must think of something to do." 
And on hearing this, Lieutenant Otto 
and Sub-lieutenant Fritz, who pre- 
eminently possessed the grave, heavy 
German countenance, said: *'What, 
Captain?" 

He thought for a few moments, and 
then replied: "What? Well, we must 
get up some entertainment, if the 
commandant will allow us." 

"What sort of an entertainment, cap- 
tain?" the major asked, taking his pipe 
out of his mouth. 

"I will arrange all that, commandant," 
the baron said: "I will send Le Devoir 
to Rouen, who will bring us some ladies. 
I know where they can be found. We 
will have supper here, as all the mate- 
rials are at hand, and, at least, we shall 
have a jolly evening." 

Graf von Farlsberg shrugged his 
shoulders with a smile: "You must 
surely be mad, my friend." 

But all the other officers got up, sur- 
rounded their chief, and said: "Let cap- 
tain have his own way, commandant; it 
is terribly dull here." 

And the major ended by yielding. 
"Very well," he replied, and the baron 
immediately sent for Le Devoir. 

The latter was an old corporal who 
had never been seen to smile, but who 
carried out all orders of his superiors 



to the letter, no matter what they 
might be. He stood there, with an im- 
passive face, while he received the 
baron's instructions, and then went out; 
five minutes later a large wagon be- 
longing to the military train, covered 
with a miller's tilt, galloped off as 
fast as four horses could take it, under 
the pouring rain, and the officers all 
seemed to awaken from their lethargy, 
their looks brightened, and they began 
to talk. 

Although it was raining as hard as 
ever, the major declared that it was 
not so dull, and Lieutenant von Grossling 
said with conviction, that the sky was 
clearing up, while Mademoiselle Fifi. 
did not seem to be able to keep in his 
place. He got up, and sat down again, 
and his bright eyes seemed to be look- 
ing for something to destroy. Suddenly, 
looking at the lady with the mustaches, 
the young fellow pulled out his revolver, 
and said: "You shall not see it. ' And 
without leaving his seat he aimed, and 
with two successive bullets cut out both 
the eyes of the portrait. 

"Let us make a mine!" he then ex- 
claimed, and the conversation was sud- 
denly interrupted, as if they had found 
some fresh and powerful subject ^i in- 
terest. The mine was his invention, his 
method of destruction, and his favorite 
amusement. 

When he left the chateau, the lawful 
owner, Count Fernand d'Amoys d'Ur- 
ville, had not had time to carry away 
or to hide anything, except the plate, 
which had been stowed away in a hole 
made in one of the walls, so that, as he 
was very rich and had good taste, the 
large drawing-room, which opened into 
the dining-room, had looked like the 



78 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



gallery in a museum, before liis pre- 
cipitate flight. 

Expensive oil-paintings, water-colors, 
and drawings hung upon the walls, while 
OP the tables, on the hanging shelves, 
and in elegant glass cupboards, there 
were a thousand knickknacks: small 
vases, statuettes, groups in Dresden 
china, grotesque Chinese figures, old 
yory, and Venetian glass, which filled the 
large room with their precious and 
fantastical array. 

Scarcely anything was le^t now; not 
that the things had been stolen, for the 
major would not have allowed that, but 
Mademoiselle Fifi would have a mi7te, 
and on that occasion all the officers 
thoroughly enjoyed themselves for five 
minutes. The little marquis went into 
the drawing-room to get what he wanted, 
and he brought back a small, delicate 
china teapot, which he filled with gun- 
powder, and carefully introduced a 
piece of German tinder into it, through 
the spout. Th?n he lighted it, and took 
this infernal machine into the next 
room; but he came back immediately, 
and shut the door. The Germans all 
stood expectantly, their faces full of 
childish, smiling curiosity, and as soon 
as the explosion had shaken the chateau, 
they all rushed in at once. 

Mademoiselle Fifi, who got in first, 
clapped his hands in delight at the 
sight of a terra-cotta Venus, whose head 
had been blown off, and each picked up 
pieces of porcelain, and wondered at 
the stran.^e shape of the fragments, 
while the major was looking with a pa- 
ternal eye at the large drawing-room 
which had been wrecked in such a Ne- 
ronic fnshion, and wh'ch was strewn with 
the fragments of works of art. He 



went out first, and said, with a smile: 
"He managed that very Vveil!"' 

But there was such a cloud of smoke 
in the dining-room mingled with the to- 
bacco smoke, that tlicy could not 
breathe, so the commandant opened the 
window, and all the officers, who had 
gone into the room for a glass of 
cognac, went up to it. 

The moist air blew into the room, and 
brought a sort of spray with it, which 
powdered their beards. They looked at 
the tall trees which were dripping with 
the rain, at the broad valley which was 
covered with mist, and at the church 
spire in the distance, which rose up like 
a gray point in the beating rain. 

The bells had not rung since their ar- 
rival. That was the only resistance 
which the invaders had met with in the 
neighborhood. The parish priest had 
not refused to take in and to feed the 
Prussian soldiers; he had several times 
even drunk a bottle of beer or claret 
v;:th the hostile commandant, who 
often employed him as a benevolent in- 
termediary; but it was no use to ask 
him for a single stroke of the bells; he 
would sooner have allowed himself to 
be shot. That was h:s way of protest- 
ing against the invasion, a peaceful and 
silent protest, the only one, he said, 
which was suitable to a priest, who was 
a man of mildness, and not of blood; 
and everyone, for twenty-five miles 
round, praised Abbe Chantiivoire's firm- 
ness and heroism, in venturing to pro- 
claim the public mourning by the ob- 
stinate silence of his church bells. 

The whole village grew enthusiastic 
over his resistance, and was rendy to 
back up their pastor and to risk any- 
thina:, as they looked uoon that silent 



MADEMOISELLE FIFI 



79 



protest as the safeguard of the national 
honor. It seemed to the peasants that 
thus they had deserved better of their 
country than Belfort and Strassburg, 
that they had set an equally valuable 
example, and that the name of their lit- 
tle village would become immortalized 
by that; but with that exception, they 
refused their Prussian conquerors noth- 
ing. 

The commandant and his ofiicers 
laughed among themselves at that in- 
offensive courage, and as the people in 
the whole country round showed them- 
selves obliging and compliant toward 
them, they v;illingly tolerated their si- 
lent patriotism. Only little Count Wil- 
helm would have liked to have forced 
them to rir.g the beils. He was very 
angry at his superior's politic com- 
pliance with the priest's scruples, and 
every da}^ he bagged the commandant 
to allow h's to sound ''ding-dong, ding- 
dong," just once, only just once, just 
by way of a joke. And he asked it 
like a wheedling woman, in the tender 
voice of seme mistress who wishes to 
obtain something, but the commandant 
would not yield, and to console herself, 
Mademoiselle Fifi made a mine in the 
chateau. 

The fi\e men stood there together for 
some minutes, inhaling the moist air, 
and at last. Lieutenant Fritz said, with 
a laugh: 'The ladies will certainly not 
have fine weather for their drive." Then 
they separated, each to bis own duties, 
while the captain had plenty to do in 
seeing about the dinner. 

When they met again, as it was grow- 
ing dark, they began to laugh at seeing 
each other as dandified and smart as on 
the day of a grand review. The com- 



mandant's hair did not look as gray as 
it did in the morning, and the captain 
had shaved — had only kept his mustache 
on, which made him look as if he had a 
streak of fire under his nose. 

In spite of the rain, they left the win- 
dow open, and one of them went to lis- 
ten from time to time. At a quarter 
past six the baron said he heard a rum- 
bling in the distance. They all rushed 
down, and soon the wagon drove up at 
a gallop with its four horses, splashed 
up to their backs, steaming and pant- 
ing. Five women got out at the bot- 
tom of the steps, five handsome girls 
whom a comrade of the captain, to 
whom Le Devoir had taken his card, had 
selected with care. 

They had not required much press- 
ing, as they v/ere sure of being well 
treated, for they had got to know the 
Prussians in the three months during 
which they had had to do with them. 
So they resigned themselves to the men 
as they did to the state of affairs. "It 
is part of our business, so it must bo 
done," they said as they drove along; 
no doubt to allay some slight, secret 
scruples of conscience. 

They went into the dining-room im- 
mediately, which looked still more dis- 
mal in its dilapidated state, when it was 
lighted up; while the table covered with 
choice dishes, the beautiful china and 
glass, and the plate, wh'ch had been 
found in the hole in the wall where its 
owner had hidden it, gave to the place 
the look of a bandits' resort, where they 
were supping after committing a rob- 
bery. The captain was radiant; he 
took hold of the women as if he were 
familiar with them; appraising them, 
kissmg them, valuing them for what they 



30 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



were worth as ladies of pleasure; and 
when the three young men wanted to 
appropriate one each, he opposed them 
authoritatively, reserving to himself the 
right to apportion them justly, accord- 
ing to their several ranks, so as not to 
wound the hierarchy. Therefore, so as 
to avoid all discussion, jarring, and 
suspicion of partialty, he placed them 
all in a line according to height, and 
addressing the tallest, he said in a 
sroice of command: 

"What is your name?" 

"Pamela," she replied, raising her 
voice. 

Then he said: "Number One, called 
Pamela, is adjudged to the comman- 
dant." 

Then, having kissed Blondina, the 
second, as a sign of proprietorship, he 
proffered stout Amanda to Lieutenant 
Otto, Eva, "the Tomato," to Sub- 
lieutenant Fritz, and Rachel, the short- 
est of them all, a very young, dark 
girl, with eyes as black as ink, a Jewess, 
whose snub nose confirmed by exception 
the rule which allots hooked noses to all 
her race, to the youngest officer, frail 
Count Wilhelm von Eyrick. 

They were all pretty and plump, with- 
out any distinctive features, and all 
•were very much alike in look and per- 
son, from their daily dissipation, and 
the life common to houses of public 
accommodation. 

The three younger men wished to 
carry off their women immediately, un- 
der the pretext of finding them brushes 
and soap; but the captain wisely op- 
posed this, \or he said they were quite 
fit to sit down to dinner, and that those 
who went up would wish for a change 
when they came down, and so would 



disturb the other couples, and his ex« 
perience in such matters carried the day. 
There were only many kisses; expectant 
kisses. 

Suddenly Rachel choked, and began 
to cough until the tears came into her 
eyes, while smoke came through her 
nostrils. Under pretense of kissing her, 
the count had blown a whiff of tobacco 
into her mouth. She did not fly into a 
rage, and did not say a word, but she 
looked at her possessor with latent 
hatred in her dark eyes. 

They sat down to dinner. The com- 
mandant seemed delighted; he made 
Pamela sit on his right, and Blondina on 
his left, and said, as he unfolded his 
table napkin: "That was a delightful 
idea of yours, captain." 

Lieutenants Otto and Fritz, «vho 
were as polite as if they had been with 
fashionable ladies, rather intimidated 
their neighbors, but Baron von Kel- 
weinstein gave the reins to ail his vicious 
propensities, beamed, made doubtful re- 
marks, and seemed on fire with his 
crown of red hair. He paid th'im com- 
pliments in French from the other side 
of the Rhine, and sputtered out gallant 
remarks, only fit for a low pothouse, 
from between his two broken teeth. 

They did not undertsand him, how- 
ever, and their intelligence did not seem 
to be awakened until he uttered nasty 
words and broad expressions, which 
were mangled by his accent. Then all 
began to laugh at once, like mad women, 
and fell against each other, repeating the 
words, which the baron then began to 
say all wrong, in order that he might 
have the pleasure of hearing them say 
doubtful things. They gave him as 
much of that stuff as he wanced, fox 



MADEMOISELLE FIFI 



SI 



they were drunk after the first bottle 
of wine, and, becoming themselves once 
more, and opening the door to their 
usual habits, they kissed the mustaches 
on the right and left of them, pinched 
their arms, uttered furious cries, drank 
out of every glass, and sang French 
couplets, and bits of German songs, 
which they had picked up in their daily 
intercourse with the enemy. 

Soon the men themselves, intoxicated 
by that which was displayed to their 
sight and touch, grew very amorous, 
shouted and broke the plates and dishes, 
while the soldiers behind them waited 
on them stolidly. The commandant 
was the only one who put any restraint 
upon himself. 

Mademoiselle Fifi had taken Rachel 
on to his knees, and, getting excited, at 
one moment kissed the little black curls 
on her nock, inhahng the pleasant 
warmth of her body, and all the savor 
of her person, through the slight space 
there was between her dress and her 
skin, and at another pinched her furi- 
ously through the material, and made 
her scream, for he was seized with a 
species of ferocity, and tormented by 
his desire to hurt her. He often held 
her close to him, as if to make her part 
of himself, and put his lips in a long 
kiss on the Jewess's rosy mouth, until 
she lost her breath; and at last he bit 
her until a stream of blood ran down 
her chin and on to her bodice. 

For the second time, she looked him 
full in the face, and as she bathed the 
wound, she said: "You will have to 
pay for that!" 

But he merely laughed a hard laugh, 
and said: "I will pay.'' 

At dessert, champagne was .<;erved, 



and the commandant rose, and in the 
same voice in which he would have 
drunk to the health of the Empress 
Augusta, he drank: "To our ladies!" 
Then a series of toasts began, toasts 
worthy of the lowest soldiers and ol 
drunkards, mingled with filthy jokes, 
which were made still more brutal by 
their ignorance of the language. They 
rot up, one after the other, trying to 
cay something witty, forcing themselves 
to be funny, and the women, who were 
so drunk that they almost fell off their 
chairs, with vacant looks and clammy 
tongues, applauded madly each time. 

The captain, who no doubt wished to 
impart an appearance of gallantry to the 
orgy, raised his glass again, and said: 
"To our victories over hearts!" There- 
upon Lieutenant Otto, who was a species 
of bear from the Black Forest, jumped 
up, inflamed and saturated with drink 
and seized by an access of alcoholic 
patriotism, cried: "To our victoriea 
over France!" 

Drunk as they were, the women were 
silent, and Rachel turned round with a 
shudder, and said: "Look here, I 
know some Frenchmen, in whose pres- 
ence you would not dare to say that." 
But the little count, still holding her on 
his knees, began to laugh, for the wine 
had made him very merry, and said: 
"Ha ! ha ! ha ! I have never met any of 
them, myself. As soon as we snow our- 
selves, they run away!" 

The girl, who was in a terrible rage, 
shouted into his face: "You are lying, 
you dirty scoundrel!" 

For a moment, he looked at her 
steadily, with his bright eyes upon her, 
as he had looked at the portrait before 
he d<=»stroyed it with revolver bullets^ 



82 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



and then he began tc laugh: "Ah! yes, 
talk about them, my dear! Should we 
be here now, if they were brave?" Then 
getting excited, he exclaimed: "We are 
the masters! France belongs to usl" 
She jumped off his knees with a bound, 
and threw herself into her chair, while 
he rose, held out his glass over the 
table, and repeated: "France and the 
French, the woods, the fields, and the 
.houses of France belong to us!" 

The others, who were quite drunk, 
md who were suddenly seized by mili- 
tary enthusiasm, the enthusiasm of 
brutes, seized tneir glasses, and shout- 
ing, "Long live Prussia!" emptied them 
at a draught. 

The girls did not protest, for they 
were reduced to silence, and were afraid. 
Even Rachel did not say a word, as she 
had no reply to make, and then the 
little count put his champagne glass, 
which bad just been refilled, on to the 
head of the Jewess, and exclaimed: "All 
the women in France belong to us, also!" 

At that she got up so quickly that 
the glass upset, spilling the amber col- 
ored wine on to her black hair as if to 
baptize her, and broke into a hundred 
fragments as it fell on to the floor. 
With trembling lips, she defied the looks 
of the officer, who was still laughing, 
and she stammered out, in a voice 
choked with rage: "That— that— that 
— ^is not true, — for you shall certainly 
not have any French women," 

He sat down again, so as to laugh at 
his ease, and trying effectually to speak 
in the Parisian accent, he said: "That 
is good, very good! Then what did you 
come here for, my de^r?" 

She was thunderstruck, and made no 
reply for a moment, for in her agitation 



she did not understand him at first; 
but as soon as she grasped his meaning, 
she said to him indignantly and vehe- 
mently: "I! I! am not a woman; 1 
am only a strumpet, and that is all 
that Prussians want." 

Almost before she had finished, he 
slapped her full in her face; but as he 
was raising his hand again, as if he 
would strike her, she, almost mad with 
passion, took up a small dessert knife 
from the table, and stabbed him right 
in the neck, just above the breastbone. 
Something that he was going to say, was 
cut short in his throat, and he sat there, 
with his mouth half open, and a terrible 
look in his eyes. 

All the officers shouted in horror, ana 
leaped up tumultuously ; but throwing 
her chair between Lieutenant Otto's 
legs, who fell down at full length, she 
ran to the window, opened it before they 
could seize her, and jumped out into the 
night and pouring rain. 

In two minutes. Mademoiselle Fi6 
was dead. Fritz and Otto drew their 
swords and wanted to kill the women 
who threw themselves at their feet and 
clung to their knees. With some diffi- 
culty the major stopped the slaughter, 
and had the four terrified girls locked 
up in a room under the care of twG 
soldiers. Then he organized the pur- 
suit of the fugitive, as carefully as il 
he were about to engage in a skirmish, 
feeling quite sure that she would be 
caught. 

The table, which had been cleared Im- 
mediately, now served as a bed on which 
to lay Fifi out, and the four officers made 
for the window, rigid and sobered, with 
the stern faces of soldiers on duty, and 
tried to pierce through the darknesj 



MONSIEUR PARENT 



83 



of the night, amid the steady torrent of 
rain. Suddenly, a shot was heard, and 
then another, a long way off; and for 
four hours they heard, from time to 
time, near or distant reports and rally- 
ing cries, strange words uttered as a call, 
in guttural voices. 

In the morning they all returned. 
Two soldiers had been killed and three 
ot hers wounded by their comrades in the 
ardor of that chase, and in the confusion 
of such a nocturnal pursuit, but they 
ha 1 not caught Rachel. 

Then the inhabitants of the district 
were terrorized, the houses were turned 
topsy-turvy, the country was scoured 
and beaten up, over and over again, 
but the Jewess did not seem to have 
left a single trace of her passage behind 
her. 

When the general was told of it, he 
gave orders to hush up the affair, so as 
not to set a bad example to the army, 
but he severely censured the comman- 
dant, who in turn punished his inferiors. 
The general had said: "One does not 
go to war in order to amuse oneself, 
and to caress prostitutes." And Graf 
von Farlsberg, in his exasperation, made 
up his mind to have his revenge on the 
district, but as he required a pretext for 
showing severity, he sent for the priest, 
and ordered him to have the bell tolled 
at the funeral of Count von Eyrick. 

Contrary to all expectation, the priest 
showed himself humble and most re- 



spectful, and when Mademoiselle Fifi's 
body left the Chateau d'Urville on its 
way to the cemetery, carried by soldiers, 
preceded, surrounded, and followed by 
soldiers, who marched with loaded rifles, 
for the first time the bell sounded its 
funereal knell in a lively manner, as ii 
a friendly hand were caressing it. At 
night it sounded again, and the next 
day, and every day; it rang as much as 
anyone could desire. Sometimes even, 
it would start at night, and sound gently 
through the darkness, seized by strange 
joy, awakened, one could not tell why. 
All the peasants in the neighborhood de« 
clared that it was bewitched, and no- 
body, except the priest and the sacristac 
would now go near the church tower, 
and they went because a poor girl was 
living there in grief and solitude, se- 
cretly nourished by those two men. 

She remained there until the German 
troops departed, and then one evening 
the priest borrowed the baker's cart, 
and himself drove his prisoner to Rouen. 
When they got there, he embraced her, 
and she quickly went back on foot tc 
the establishment from which she had 
come, where the proprietress, who 
thought that she was dead, was very 
glad to see her. 

A short time afterward, a patriot 
who had no prejudices, who liked her 
because of her bold deed, and who after- 
ward loved her for herself, married her 
and made a lady of her. 



Monsieur Parent 



Little George was piling hills of sand 
in one of the walks. He scooped the 
sand up with both his hands, made it 



into a pyramid, and then put a chestnut 
leaf on the top, and his father, sitting on 
an iron chair, was looking at him with 



84 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



concentrated and affectionate attention, 
seeing nobody else in the small public 
garden, which was full of people. All 
along the circular road other children 
were busy in the same manner, or were 
indulging in other childish games, while 
nursemaids were strolling two and two, 
with their bright cap-ribbons floating 
behind them, and carrying something 
wrapped up in lace, in their arms. Here 
and there little girlf in short petticoats 
and bare legs were talking seriously to- 
gether, while resting from trundling their 
hoops. 

The sun was just disappearing behind 
the roofs of the Rue Saint-Lazare, but 
still shed its rays obliquely on that little 
overdressed crowd. The chestnut trees 
were lighted up with its yellow rays, 
and the three fountains before the lofty 
porch of the church shone like molten 
silver. 

Monsieur Parent looked at his boy sit- 
ting there in the dusk; he followed his 
slightest movements with affection in his 
glance; but accidentally looking up at 
the church clock, he saw that he was 
five minutes late, so he got up, took the 
child by the arm and shook his sand- 
covered dress, wiped his hands and led 
him in the direction of the Rue Blanche. 
He walked quickly, so as not to get in 
after his wife, but as the child could not 
keep up the pace, lie took him up and 
carried him, though it made him pant 
when he had to walk up the steep street, 
parent was a man of forty, turning gray 
already, rather stout. He had married, 
a few years previously, a young womnn 
whom he dearly loved, but who now 
treated him with the severity and au- 
thority of an all-powerful despot. Sue 
found fault witJi him continually for 



everything that he did or did not do, 
reproached him bitterly for his slightest 
acts, his habits, his simple pleasures, 
his tastes, his movements and walk, and 
for having a round stomach and a placid 
voice. 

He still loved her, however, but above 
all he loved the boy she had borne 
him, and George, who was now tnree, 
had become the greatest joy, in fact the 
preoccupation, of his heart. He himself 
had a modest private fortune, and lived 
without doing anything on his t'Venty 
thousand francs* a year, and his wife, 
who had been quite portionless, was 
constantly angry at her husband's in- 
activity. 

At last he reached his Louse, put down 
the child, wiped his forehead and walked 
upstairs. When he got to th3 second 
floor, he rang. An old servant who had 
brought him up, one of those mistress- 
servants who are the tyrants of families, 
opened the door to him, and he askec'; 
her anxiously: "Has Madame come 
in yet?" 

The servant shrugged her shoulders: 
**When have you ever known Madame 
to come home at half past six, Mon* 
sieur?" 

And he replied with some embarrass- 
ment: "Very well; all the better; it 
will give me time to change my things, 
for I am very hot." 

The servant looked at him with angry 
and contemptuous pity, and grumbled: 
"Oh! I can see that well enough, you 
are covered with perspiration, Monsieur. 
I suppose you walked quickly and ear- 
ned the child, and only to have to wait 
until half past seven, perhaps, for Ma- 

*About $4000. 



MONSIEUR PARENT 



bi 



dame, I have made up my mind not to 
have it ready at the time, but shall get 
it lor eight o clock, and if you have to 
wait, I cannot help it; roast meat ought 
not to hz burnt!" 

Monsieur Parent, however, pretended 
not to hear, and only said: "All right! 
all right. You must wash George's 
hands, for h2 has been making sand 
pits. I will go and change my clothes; 
tell the maid to give the child a good 
washing." 

And he went into h's own room, end 
as soon as he got in ha locked tho door, 
JO as to be alone, quite alone. He was 
JO used now to being abused and badly 
treat;rd, that he never thought himself 
safe, except when he was locked in. He 
no longer ventured even to think, re- 
flect and reason with himself unless he 
had secured himself against her looks 
and insinuations, by locking himself in. 
Having thrown himself into a chair, in 
order to rest for a few minutes before 
he put on clean linen, he remembered 
that Julie was beginning to be a fresh 
danger in the house. She hated his wife 
— that was quite plain; but she hated 
still more his friend Paul Limousin, who 
had continued to be the familiar and in- 
timate friend of the house, after havhig 
been the inseparable companion of his 
bachelor days, which is very rare. It 
was Limousin who acted as a buffer be- 
tween his wife and himself, and who 
defended him ardently, and even severe- 
ly, against her undeserved reproaches, 
against cryirg scenes, and against all 
the daily miseries of his existence. 

But now for six months, Julie had 
constantly been saying things against 
her mistress. She would repeat twenty 
times a day: "If I were you, Monsieur, 



I should not allow myself to be led by 
the nose like that. Well, well! But 
there — everyone according to his na- 
ture." And one day, she had even ven- 
tured to be insolent to Hcnriette, who, 
however, merely said to her husband, 
at night: "You know, the next time 
she speaks to me like that, I shall tun 
her out of doors." But she, who feared 
nothing, seemed to be afraid of the old 
servant, and Parent attributed her mild- 
ness to her consideration fcr the old 
domestic who had brought him up, and 
who had closed his mother's eyes. Now, 
hov/ever, Henriette's patience was ex- 
hausted, matters could not go on like 
that much longer, and he was fright- 
ened at the idea of what was going to 
happen. What could he do? To get 
rid of Julie seemed to him to be such 
a formidable undertaking, that he hardly 
ventured to think of it; but it was just 
as impossible to uphold h:r against his 
wife, and before another month could 
pass, the situation between the two 
would become unbearable. He re- 
mained sitting there, wiith his arms 
hanging down, vaguely trying to dis- 
covei* some means to set matters 
straight, but without success, and he 
said to himself: "It is lucky that I 
have George; without him I ihould be 
very miserable." 

Then he thought he v;ould consult 
Limousin, but the recollection of the 
hr.trcd that existed between his friend 
and the servant made him fear lest the 
former should advise him to turn her 
away, and again he was lost in doubt 
and sad uncertainty. Just then the 
clock struck seven, and he started up. 
Seven o'clock, and he had rot even 
changed his clothes ! Then, nervous and 



86 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



breathless, he undressed, put on a clean 
shirt, and hastily finished his toilette, as 
if he had been expected in the next 
room for some event of extreme impor- 
tance; then he went into the drawing- 
room, happy at having nothing to fear. 
He glanced at the newspaper, went and 
looked out of the window, and then sat 
down on a sofa again. The door opened, 
and the boy came in, washed, brushed, 
and smiling, and Parent took him up in 
his arms and kissed him passionately; 
then he tossed him into Lhe air, and held 
him up to the ceiling, but soon sat down 
again, as he was tired with all his ef- 
forts, and taking George on to his knee, 
he made him *'ride a cock-horse." The 
child laughed and clapped his hands, and 
shouted with pleasure, as his father did, 
laughing until his big stomach shook, for 
it amused him almost more ihan it did 
the child. 

Parent loved the boy with all the heart 
of a weak, resigned, ill-used man. He 
loved with mad bursts of affection, with 
caresses and with all the bashful ten- 
derness which was hidden in him, and 
which had never found an outlet, even 
at the early period of his married life, 
for his wife had always shown herself 
cold and reserved. Just then, how- 
ever, Julie came to the door, with a pale 
face and glistening eyes, and said in a 
voice which trembled with exasperation: 
*'It is half past seven, Monsieur." 
Parent gave an uneasy and resigned look 
at the clock and replied: ''Yes, it cer- 
tainly is half past seven." 

"Well, my dinner is quite ready, 
now." 

Seeing the storm which was coming, 
he tried to turn it aside. "But did you 



not tell me when I came in that it 
would not be ready before eight?" 

"Eight! what are you thinking about? 
You surely do not mean to let the child 
dine at eight o'clock? It would ruin his 
stomach. Just suppose that he only had 
his mother to look after him! She 
cares a great deal about her child. Oh! 
yes, we will speak about her; she is a 
mother. What a pity it is that there 
should be any mothers like her!" 

Parent thought it was time to cut 
short a threatened scene, and so he 
said: "J^he, I will not allow you to 
speak like that of your mistress. You 
understand me, do you not? Do not 
forget it for the future." 

The old servant, who was nearly 
choked with surprise, turned round and 
went out, slammJng the door so violently 
after her, that the lusters on the chan- 
deher rattled, and for some seconds it 
sounded as if a number of little in- 
visible bells were ringing in the draw- 
ing-room. 

George^ who was surprised at first, 
began to clap his hands merrily, and 
blowing out his cheeks, he gave a great 
boom with all the strength of his lungs, 
to imitate the noise of the door bang- 
ing. Then his father began telling him 
stories, but his mind was so preoccupied 
that he continually lost the thread of 
his story, and the child, who could not 
understand him, opened his eyes wide, 
in astonishment. 

Parent never took his eyes off the 
clock; he thought he could see the 
hands move, and he would have liked 
to have stopped them until his wife's 
return. He was not vexed with her for 
being late, but he was frightened, fright- 
ened of her and of Julie, frightened at 



MONSIEUR PARENT 



87 



the thought of all that might happen. 
Ten minutes more would sufi&ce to bring 
about an irreparable catastrophe, words 
and acts of violence that he did not dare 
to picture to himself. The mere idea 
of a quarrel, of loud voices, of insults 
flying through the air like bullets, of 
two women standing face to face, look- 
ing at each other and flinging abuse at 
each other, made his heart beat, and his 
tongue feel as parched as if he had 
been walking in the sun. H2 felt as limp 
as a rag, so limp that he no longer had 
the strength to lift up the child and 
dance him on his knee. 

Eight o'clock struck, the door opened 
once more and Julie came in again. 
She had lost her look of exasperation, 
but now she put on an air of cold and 
determined resolution, which was still 
more formidable. 

"Monsieur," she said, "I served your 
mother until the day cf her death, and 
I have attended to you from your birth 
until now, and I think it may be said 
that I am devoted to the family." 

She v^^aited for a reply, and Parent 
stammered : 

Why yes, certainly, my good Julie." 

She continued: "You know quite 
Well that I have never done anything for 
the sake of money, but always for your 
sake; that I have never deceived you 
nor lied to you, that you have never 
had to find fault with me." 

"Certainly, my good Julie." 

"Very well then. Monsieur, it can- 
not go on any longer like this. I have 
said nothing, and left you in your igno- 
rance, out of respect and liking for you, 
but it is too much, and everyone in the 
neighborhood is laughing at you. Every- 
body knows about it, and so I must tell 



you also, although I do not like to re- 
peat it. The reason why Madame comes 
in at any time she chooses is that she 
is doing abominable things." 

He seemed stupefied, unable to un- 
derstand, and could only stammer out: 
'Hold your tongue, you know I have 
forbidden you — " But she interrupted 
him with irresistible resolution. 

"No, Monsieur, I must tell you 
everything, now. For a long time Ma- 
dame has been doing wrong with Mon- 
sieur Limousin, I have seen them kiss 
scores of times bohind the doors. Ah! 
you may be sure that if Monsieur Li- 
mousin had been rich, Madame would 
never have married Monsieur Parent. 
If yod remember how the marriage 
was brought about, you would under- 
stand the matter from beginning to 
end." 

Parent had risen, and stammered out, 
deadly pale: "Hold your tongue — ^hold 
your tongue or—" 

She went on, however: "No, I mean 
to tell you everything. She married 
you from interest, and she deceived you 
from the very first day. It was all set- 
tled between them beforehand. You 
need only reflect for a few moments to 
understand it, and then, she was not 
satisfied with having married you, as 
she did not love you, she has made your 
life miserable, so miserable that it has 
almost broken my heart when I have 
seeii it — " 

He walked up and down the room 
with his hands clenched, repeating: 
"Hold your tongue — ^hold your tongue 
— " for he could find nothing else to 
say; the old servant, however, would 
not yield ; she seemed resolved on every- 
thing, but George who had been at 



S8 



WORKS OF GUV DE MAUPaSSANT 



first astonished, and then frightened at 
those angry voices, began to utter shrill 
screams. He hid behind his father, 
and roared, with his lace puckered up 
and his mouth open. 

Kis son's screams exasperated Parent, 
and filled him with rage and courage. 
He rushed at Julie with both arms 
raised, ready to strike her, and exclaim- 
ing: "Ah! you wretch! you will send 
the child out of his senses." He was 
almost touching her, when she said: 

"Monsieur, you may beat me if you 
like, me who reared you, but that will 
not prevent your wife irom deceiving 
you, or alter the fact that your child 
Is not yours!" 

He stopped suddenly, and let his 
arms fall, and he remained standing op- 
jX)site to her, so everwhelmed that he 
could understand nothing more, and she 
added: "You need only look at the 
child to know who is its father! He is 
the very image of Monsieur Limousin, 
you need only look at his eyes and tore- 
head, why, a blind man could not be 
mistaken in him." 

But he had taken her by the shoul- 
ders, and was now shaking her with all 
his might, while he ejaculated: "Viper! 
viper! Go out the room, viper! Go 
out, or I shall kill you! Go out! Go 
out!" 

And with a desperate effort he threw 
her into the next room. She fell on 
to the table which was laid for dinner, 
breaking the glasses. Then, getting up, 
she put it between her master and her- 
self, and v/hile he was pursuing her, 
in order to take hold of her again, she 
flung terrible words at him : "You need 
only go out this evening after dinner, 
and come in again immediately, and you 



will see — ^you will see whether I have 
been lying! Just try it — and you will 
see." She had reached the kitchen door 
and escaped, but he ran after her, up 
the backstairs to her bedroom into 
which she had locked herself, and 
knocking at the door, he said: "You 
will leave my house this very instant." 
"You may be certain of that. Mon- 
sieur," was her reply. "In an hour's 
time T shall not be here any longer." 

He then went slowly downstairs 
again, holding on to the banister, so as 
not to fall, and went back to the draw- 
ing-room, where little George was sit- 
ting on the floor, crying; he fell into a 
chair, and looked at the child with dull 
eyes. He understood nothing, he knew 
nothing more, he felt dr.zed, stupefied, 
mad, as if he had just frJlcn on his head, 
and he scarcely even remembered the 
dreadful things the servant had told him. 
Then, by degrees his reason grew clearer, 
like muddy v/ater settling, and the 
abominable revelation began to work io 
his heart. 

Julie had spoken so clearly, with so 
much force, assurance, and sincerity, 
that he did not doubt her good faith, 
but he persisted in not believing her 
penetration. She might have been de- 
ceived, blinded by her devotion to him, 
carried away by unconscious hatred 
for Henriette. However, in measure as 
he tried to reassure and to convince 
himself, a thousand small facts recurred 
to his recollection, his wife's words, 
Limousin's looks, a number of unob- 
served, almost unseen trifles, her going 
out late, their simultaneous absence, and 
oven some almost insignificant, but 
strange gestures, which he could not un- 
derstand, now assumed in ex*:reme ira- 



MONSIEUR PARENT 



&(> 



portance for him and established a con- 
nivance between them. Everything 
that had happened since his engagement, 
surged through his over-excited brain, 
in his misery, and he doggedly went 
through his five years of married life, 
trying to recollect every detail month 
by month, day by day, and every dis- 
quieting circumstance that he remem- 
bered stung him to the quick like a 
wasp's sting. 

He was not thinking of George any 
more, who was quiet now and on the 
carpet, but seeing that no notice was 
being taken of him, the boy began to 
cry. Then his father ran up to him, 
took him into his arms, and covered 
him Tvlth kisses. His child remained to 
him at any rate! What did the rest 
m::ttcr? He held him in his arms and 
pressed his lips on to his light hair, and 
relieved and composed, he whispered: 
"George, — my little George, — my dear 
little George!" But he suddenly re- 
membered what Julie had said! Yes! 
she had said that he v;ns Limousin's 
child. Oh! It could not be possible, 
surely! He could not believe it, could 
not doubt, even for a moment, that 
George was his own child. It was one 
of those low scandals which spring 
from servants' brains ! And he repeated : 
"George — my dear little George." The 
youngster was quiet again, now that his 
father was fondling him. 

Parent felt the warmth of the little 
chest penetrate to his through their 
clothes, and it filled him with love, cour- 
age, and happiness; that gentle heat 
soothed him, fortified him, and saved 
him. Then he put the small, curly head 
away from him a little and looked at it 
affectionately^ still repeating: "George! 



Oh! my little George!" But suddenly 
he thought: "Suppose he were to re- 
semble Limousin, after all!" 

There was something strange work- 
ing within him, a fierce feeling, a poig- 
nant and violent sensation of cold in 
his whole body, in all his limbs, as if his 
bones had suddenly been turned to ice. 
Oh! if the child were to resemble 
Limousin — and he continued to look at 
George, who was laughing now. He 
looked at him wuth haggard, troubled 
eyes, and tried to discover whether 
there was any likeness in his forehead, 
in his nose, mouth, or cheeks. His 
thoughts v/andered like they do when a 
person is roing mad and his child's face 
changed in his eyes, and assumed a 
strange look, and unlikely resemblances, 

Julie had said: "A blind man could 
not be mistaken in him." There must, 
therefore, be something striking, an un- 
deniable likeness! But v/hat? The 
forehead? Yes, perhaps; Limousin's 
forehead, hov/ever, v/as narrower. The 
mouth, then? But Limousin wore a 
beard, and how could anyone verify the 
likeness between the plump chin of the 
child, and the hairy chin of that man? 

Parent thought: "I cannot see any- 
thing now, I am too much upset; I 
could not recognize anything at pres- 
ent. I must v/ait; I must look at him 
well to-morrow morning, when I am 
getting up." And immediately after- 
ward, he said to himself: "But if he 
is like me, I shall be saved! saved!" 
And he crossed the drawing-room in two 
strides, to examine the child's face by 
the side of his own in the looking-glass. 
He had George on his arm so that their 
faces might be close together, and he 
spoke out loud almost without know 



90 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



ing. "Yes — we have the same nose — 
the same nose perhaps, but that is not 
sure — and the same look. But no, he 
has blue eyes. Then — good heavens! 
I shall go mad. I cannot see anything 
more — I am going mad!" 

He went away from the glass, to the 
other end of the drawing-room, and put- 
ting the child into an easy-chair, he 
fell into another and began to cry. He 
sobbed so violently that George, who 
was frightened at hearing him, imme- 
diately began to scream. The hall bell 
rang, and Parent gave a bound as if a 
bullet had gone through him. 

"There she is," he said. "What shall 
I do?" And he ran and locked himself 
up in his room, so at any rate to have 
time to bathe his eyes. But in a few 
moments another ring at the bell made 
him jump again, and then he remem- 
bered that Julie had left without the 
housemaid knowing it, and so nobody 
would go to open the door. What was 
he to do? He went himself, and sud- 
denly he felt brave, resolute, ready for 
dissimulation and the struggle. The 
terrible blow had matured him in a few 
moments, and then he wished to know 
the truth, he wished it with the rage of 
a timid man, with the tenacity of an 
easy-going man who has been exasper- 
ated. 

But nevertheless he trembled! Was 
it fear? Yes. Perhaps he was still 
frightened of her? Does one know how 
much excited cowardice there often is 
in boldness? He went to the door with 
furtive steps, and stopped to listen; his 
heart beat furiously, and he heard noth- 
ing but the noise of that dull throbbing 
in his chest, and of George's shrill 
voice, who was still crying in the draw- 



ing-room. Suddenly, however, the noise 
of the bell over his head startled him 
like an explosion; then he seized the 
lock, turned the key, and, opening the 
door, saw his wife and Limousin stand- 
ing before him on the steps. 

With an air of astonishment, which 
also betrayed a little irration she said: 
"So you open the door now? Where 
is Julie?" His throat felt tight and 
his breathing was labored, and he tried 
to reply without being able to utter a 
word, so she continued: 

"Are you dumb? I asked you where 
Julie is?" 

And then he managed to say: "She 
— she — has — gone." 

Whereupon his wife began to get 
angry. "What do you mean by gone. 
Where has she gone? Why?" 

By degrees he regained his coolness, 
and he felt rising in him an immense 
hatred for that insolent woman who was 
standing before him. "Yes, she has 
gone altogether. I sent her away." 

"You have sent away Julie? Why^ 
you must be mad." 

"Yes, I sent her away because she 
was insolent — and because, because she 
was ill-using the child." 

"Julie?" 

"Yes, Julie." 

"What was she insolent about?" 

"About you." 

"About me?" 

"Yes, because the dinner was burnt 
and you did not come in." 

"And she said?" 

"She said offensive things about you, 
which I ought not — ^which I could not 
listen to." 

"What did she say?" 

"It is no good repeating them." 



MONSIEUR PARENT 



91 



*^ want to hear them." 

"She said it was unfortunate for a 
man like me to be married to a woman 
like you, unpunctual, careless, disor- 
derly, a bad mother, and a bad wife." 

The young woman had gone into the 
anteroom followed by Limousin, who 
did not say a word at this unexpected 
position of things. She shut the door 
quickly, threw her cloak on to a chair, 
and going straight up to her husband, 
she stammered out: 

"You say? — you say? — that I am — ?" 

He was very pale and calm and re- 
plied : 

"I say nothing, my dear. I am sim- 
ply repeating what Julie said to me, as 
you wanted to know what it was, and 
I wish you to remark that I turned her 
off just on account of what she said." 

She trembled with a violent longing 
to tear out his beard and scratch his 
face. In his voice and manner she felt 
that he was asserting his position as 
master, although she had nothing to 
say by way of reply, and she tried to 
assume the offensive, by saying some- 
thing unpleasant: 

"I suppose you have had dinner?" 
she asked. 

"No, I waited for you." 

She shrugged her shoulders impa- 
tiently. "It is very stupid of you to 
wait after half past seven," she said. 
**You might have guessed that I was 
detained, that I had a good many things 
to do, visits and shopping." 

And then, suddenly, she felt that she 
wanted to explain how she had spent 
her time, and she told him in abrupt, 
haughty words, that having to buy some 
furniture in a shop /a long distance off, 
very far off, in the Rue de Rennes, she 



had met Limousin at past seven o'clock 
on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, and 
that then she had gone with him to have 
something to eat in a restaurant, as she 
did not like to go to one by herself, al- 
though she was faint with hunger. That 
was how she had dinner, with Limousin, 
if it could be called dining, for they 
had only had some soup and half a 
fowl, as they were in a great hurry to 
get back, and Parent replied simply: 

"Well, you were quite right. I am 
not finding fault with you." 

Then Limousin, who had not spoken 
till then, and who had been half hidden 
behind Henriette, came forward, and 
put out his hand, saying: "Are you 
very weU?" 

Parent took his hand, and shaking it 
gently, replied: "Yes, I am very well." 

But the young woman had felt a re- 
proach in her husband's last words: 
"Finding fault! Why do you speak of 
finding fault? One mighc think that 
you meant to imply something." 

"Not at all," he replied, by way of 
excuse. "I simply meant, that I was 
not at all anxious although you were 
late, and that I did not find fault with 
you for it." She, however, took ih6 
high hand, and tried to find a pretext 
for a quarrel. 

"Although I was late? One might 
really think that it was one o'clock in 
the morning, and that I spent my nights 
away from home." 

"Certainly not, my dear. I said late, 
because I could find no other word. 
You said you should be back at half 
past six, and you returned at half past 
eight. That was surely being late! I 
understand it perfectly well. I am not 



P2 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



at all surprised, even. But — but — I 
can hardly use any other word." 

"But you pronounce them, as if I had 
been cut all night." 

"Oh! no; oh! no!" 

She saw that he would yield on every 
point, and she was going into her own 
room, when at last she noticed that 
George was screaming, and then she 
asked, with some feeling: "Whatever 
is the matter with the child?" 

"I told you, that Julie had been rather 
unkind to him." 

"What has the wretch been doing to 
him?" 

"Oh! Nothing much. She gave him 
a push, and he fell down." 

She wanted to see her child, and 
ran into the dining-room, but stopped 
short at the si:^ht of the table covered 
mih spilt wine, with broken decanters 
and glasses ana overturned saltcellars. 
"Who did all that mischief?" she asked. 

"It was Julie who — " 

But she interrupted him furiously: 
"That is too much, really; Julie speaks 
of me as if I were a shameless woman, 
beats my child, breaks my plates and 
dishes, turns my house upside down, and 
it appears that you think it all quite 
natural." 

"Certainly not, as I have got rid of 
her." 

"Really! — you have got rid of her! 
But you ought to have given her in 
charge. In such cases, one ought to 
call in the Commissary of Police!" 

"But, my dear — I really could not — 
there was no reason. It would have 
been very difficult.'* 

She shrugged her shoulders, disdain- 
fully: "There, you will never be any- 
thing but a poor, wretched fellow, a man 



without a will, without any firmness nt 
energy. Ah! she must have said some 
nice things to you, your Julie, to make 
you turn her off like that. I should like 
to have been here for a minute, only 
for a minute." Then she opened the 
drawing-room door and ran to George, 
took him into h^r arms and kissed him, 
and said: "Georgie, what is it, my 
darling, my pretty one, my treasure?" 
But as she w^as fondling him he did not 
speak, and she repeated: "What is the 
matter with you?" And he, having 
seen with his child's eyes that something 
was wrong, replied "Julie beat papa." 

Henriette turned toward her hus- 
band, in stupefacticn at first, but then 
r.n irresistible desire to laugh shone in 
her eyes, passed like a slight shiver over 
her delicate cheeks, made her upper lip 
curl and her nostrils dilate, -^.nd at last a 
clear, bright burst of mirth came from 
her lips, a torrent of gaiety which was 
lively and sonorous as the song of a 
bird. With littb mischievous exclama- 
tions which issued from between her 
white teeth, and hurt Parent as much as 
a bite would have done she laughed: 
"Ha ! — ^ha ! — ha ! — ha ! she beat — she 
beat — my husband — ha! — ha! — ha! 
How funnv! Do you hear, Limousin? 
Julie has beaten — has beaten — my — hus- 
band. Oh! dear — oh! dear — how very 
funny!" 

But Parent protested: "No — no — it 
is not true, it is not true. It was I, on 
the contrary^ who threw her into the 
dining-room so violently that she 
knocked the table over. The child did 
not see clearly, I beat her!" 

"Here, my darling," Henriette said to 
her boy; "did Julie beat papa?" 

'Tes. it was Julie," he replied. But 



MONSIEUR PARENT 



iien, suddenly turning to another idea, 
she said. 'But the child has had no 
dinner? You have had nothing to eat» 
my pet?" 

"No, mamma." 

Then she again turned furiously on to 
her husband : "Why, you must be mad, 
utterly mad! It is half past eight, and 
George has had no dinner!" 

He excused himself as best he could, 
for he had nearly lost his wits by the 
overwhelming scene and the explanation, 
and felt crushed by this ruin of his life. 

"But, my dear, we were waiting for 
3^ou, as I did not wish to dine without 
you. As you come home late every day, 
J expected you every moment." 

She threw her bonnet, which she had 
kept on till then, into an easy-chair, 
and in an an-^ry voice she said: "It is 
teaily intolerable to have to do with 
people who can understand nothing, who 
:an divine nothing, and do nothing by 
:hemselves. So I suppose, if i were to 
come in at twelve o'clock at night, the 
child would have had nothing to eat? 
/ust as if you could not have under- 
wood that, as it was after half past 
ieven, I was prevented from coming 
home, that I had met with some 
hindrance!" 

Parent trembled, for he felt that his 
anger was getting the upper hand, but 
Limousin interposed and turning toward 
the young woman, he said: "My dear 
friend, you are altogether unjust. Parent 
could not guess that you would come 
here so late, as you never do so, and 
then, how could you expect him to get 
over the difficulty all by hunself, after 
having sent away Julie?" 

But Henriette was very angry and 
replied: "Well, at any rate, he Tou^f 



get over the difficulty nmxaelt, for I will 
not help him. Let him settle it!" And 
she went into her own room, quite for- 
getting that her child had not had any- 
thing to eat. 

Then Limousin immediately set to 
work to help his frieiid. He picked up 
the broken glasses which strewed the 
table, and took them out; he replaced 
the plates and knives and forks and put 
the child into his high cnair, while 
Parent went to look for the lady's maid 
to wait at table. She came in, in great 
astonishment, as she had heard nothing 
in George's room, where she had been 
working. She soon, however, brought in 
the soup, a burnt leg of mutton, and 
mashed potatoes. 

Parent sat by the side of the child, 
very much upset and distressed at al> 
that had happened. He gave the boy 
his dinner, and endeavored to eat some* 
thmg himself, but iie could only swal- 
low with an effort, as if his throat had 
been paralyzed. By degrees he was 
seized by an insane desire to look at 
Limousin, who was sitting opposite to 
him and making bread pellets, to see 
whether George was like him. He did 
not v*inture to raise his eyes for some 
time; at last, however, he made up his 
mind to do so, and gave a quick, sharp 
look at the face which he knew so well. 
He almost fancied that he had never 
looked at it carefully, since it looked so 
different to what he had anticipated. 
From time to time he scanned him, try- 
ing to find a likeness in the smallest 
lines of his face, in the slightest fea- 
tures, and then he looked at his SOD^ 
under the pretext of feeding him. 

Two words were sounding in his ears; 
"His father! his father! his fatherl" 



94 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



They buzzed in his temples at every beat 
of his heart. Yes, that man, that tran- 
quil man who was sitting on the other 
side of the table was, perhaps, the 
father of his son, of George, of his 
little George. Parent left off eating; 
he could not manage any more; a ter- 
rible pain, one of those attacks of pain 
which make men scream, roll on the 
ground, and bite the furniture, was tear- 
ing at his entrails, and he felt inclined 
to take a knife and plunge it into his 
stomach. It would ease him and save 
him, and all would be over. 

For how could he live now? Could 
he get up in the morning, join in the 
meals, go out into the stree'^s, go to bed 
at night and sleep with that idea dom- 
inating him: "Limousin is licde 
George's father!" No, he would not 
have the strength to walk a step, to 
dress himself, to think of anything, to 
speak to anybody! Every day, every 
hour, every moment, he would be trying 
to know, to guess, to discover this ter- 
rible secret. And the little boy — ^his 
dear little boy — he could not look at 
him any more without enduring the ter- 
rible pains of that doubt, of being tor- 
tured by it to the very marrow of his 
bones. He would be obliged to live 
there, to remain in that house, near a 
child whom he might love and yet hate ! 
Yes, he should certainly end by hating 
him. What torture! Oh! If he were 
sure that Limousin was George's father, 
he might, perhaps, grow calm, become 
accustomed to his misfortune and his 
pain; but ignorance was intolerable. 

Not to know — to be always trying to 
find out, to be continually suffering, to 
kiss the child every moment, another 
raaa's child, to take him out for walks. 



to carry him, to caress him, to love him, 
and to think continually: "Perhaps hb 
is not my child?" Wouldn't it be bet- 
ter not to see him, to abandon him, — to 
lose him in the streets, or to go away, 
far away, himself, so far away that he 
should never hear anything more spoken 
about, never! 

He started when he heard the door 
open. His wife came. "I am hungry,'* 
she said; "are not you also, Limousin?" 

He hesitated a little, and then said: 
"Yes, I am, upon my word." And she 
had the leg of mutton brought in again, 
while Parent asked himself: "Have they 
had dinner? Or are they late because 
they have had a lover's meeting?" 

They both ate with a very good appe- 
tite. Henriette was very calm, but 
laughed and joked, and her husband 
watched her furtively. She had on a 
pink dressing gown trimmed with white 
lace, and her fair head, her white neck, 
and her plump hands stood out from 
that coquettish and perfumed dress, as 
from a seashell edged with foam. Wha-: 
had she been doing all day with tha*. 
man? Parent could see them kissing, 
and stammering out words of ardent 
love! How was it that he could not 
manage to know everything, to guess the 
whole truth, by looking at them, sitting 
side by side, opposite to him? 

What fun they must be making of 
him, if he had been their dupe since 
the first day? Was it possible to make 
a fool of a man, of a worthy man, be- 
cause his father had left him a little 
money? Why could one not see these 
things in people's souls? How was it 
that nothing revealed to upright souls 
the deceit of infijmous hearts? How 
was it that voices had the same sound 



MONSIEUR PARENT 



^5 



for adoring as for lying — why was a 
false, deceptive look the same as a sin- 
cere one? And he watched them, wait- 
ing to catch a gesture, a word, an in- 
tonation. Then suddenly he thought: 
"I will surprise them this evening," and 
he said : "My dear, as I have dismissed 
Julie, I will see about getting another 
this very day, and I shall go out im- 
mediately to procure one by to-morrow 
morning, so I may not be in until late." 

"Very well," she replied; "go, I shall 
not stir from here. Limousin will keep 
me company. We will wait for you." 
And then, turning to the maid, she said: 
"You had better put George to bed, and 
then you can clear away and go up to 
your own room." 

Parent had got up; he was unsteady 
on his legs, dazed and giddy, and say- 
mg: "I shall see you again later on/' 
he went out, holding on to the wall, for 
the floor seemed to roll, like a ship. 
George had been carried out by his 
nurse, while Henriette and Limousin 
spent into the drawing-room. 

As soon as the door was shut, he 
said: "You must be mad, surely, to 
torment your husband as you do." She 
immediately turned on him: "Ah! Do 
you know that I think the habit you 
have got into lately, of looking upon 
Parent as a martyr, is very unpleasant." 

Limousin threw himself into an easy- 
chair, and crossed his legs: "I am not 
setting him up as a martyr in the least, 
but I think that, situated as we are, it 
is ridiculous to defy this man as you do, 
from morning till night." 

She took a cigarette from the mantel- 
piece, lighted it, and replied: "But I 
do not defy him, auite the contrary; 



only, he irritates me by his stupidity, 
and I treat him as he deserves." 

Limousin continued impatiently: 
"What you are doing is very ^'oolish! 
However, all women are alike. Look 
here: Parent is an excellent, kind fel- 
low, stupidly confiding and good, who 
never interferes with us, who does not 
suspect us for a moment, who leaves us 
quite free and undisturbed, whenever we 
like, and you do all you can to put hiro 
into a rage and to spoil our life." 

She turned to him: "I say, you 
worry me. You are a coward, like all 
other men are! You are frightened of 
that poor creature!" He immediately 
jumped up, and said, furiously: "I 
should like to know what he does, and 
why you are so set against him? Does 
he make you unhappy? Does he beat 
you? Does he deceive you and go with 
another woman? No, it is really too 
bad to make him suffer, merely because 
he is too kind, and to hat^ him, merely 
because you are unfaithful to him." 

She went up to Limousin, and looking 
him full in the face, she said: "And 
you reproach me with deceiving him? 
You? You? What a filthy heart you 
must have?" 

He felt rather ashamed, and tried to 
defend himself: "I am not reproaching 
you, my dear, I am only asking you to 
treat your husband gently, because we 
both of us require him to trust us. I 
think that you ought to see that." 

They were close together — ^he, tall, 
dark, with long whiskers, and the rather 
vulgar manners of a good-looking man, 
who is very well satisfied with himself; 
she, small, fair, and pink, a little Pari- 
sian, half shopkeeper, half one of those 
girls of easy virtue, born in a shop 



96 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



brought up at its door to entice custom- 
ers by her looks, and married, acci- 
dentally, in consequence, to a simple, 
unsophisticated man, who saw her out- 
side the door every morning when he 
went out, and every evening when he 
came home. 

"But do you not understand, you 
great booby," she said, "that I hate him 
just because he married me, because he 
bought me, in fact, because everything 
that he says anc? does, everything tliat 
he thinks, reacts on m.y nerves? He 
exasperates me every moment by his 
stupidity, which you call kindness — ^by 
his dullness, which you call his confi- 
dence, and then, above all, because he 
is my husband, instead of you! I feel 
him between us, although he does not 
interfere with us much. And then? And 
then? No, after all, it is too idiotic 
of him not to guess anything! I wish 
he would at any rate oz a little jealous. 
There are moments when I feel inclined 
to sny 10 him, 'Don't you see, you 
stupid fool, that Paul is my lover?' " 

Limousin began to laujjh: "Mean- 
while, it would b2 a good thing if you 
were to keep quiet, and not disturb our 
life." 

"Oh! I shall not disturb it, you may 
be sure! There is nothing to fear, with 
such a fool. But it is quite incompre- 
hensible that you cannot understand 
how hateful he is to me, how he irri- 
tates me. You always seem to like him, 
and you shake hands with him cordially. 
Men are very surprising at times." 

"One must know how to dissimulate, 
my dear." 

"It is no question of dissimulation, but 
of feeling. One might think that, when 
you men deceive another, you liked him 



all the more on that account, while we 
women hate a man from the moment 
that we have betrayed him." 

"I do not see why I should hate an 
excellent fellow, because I love his wife." 

"You do not see it? You do not see 
it? You, all of you, are wanting in that 
fineness of feeling! However, that is 
one of those things which one feels, and 
which one cannot express. And then, 
moreover, one ought not. No, you 
would not understand, it is quitf" use- 
less! You men have no delicacy of 
feeling." 

And smiling, with the gentle contempt 
of a debauched woman, she put both her 
hands on to his shoulders and held up 
her lips to him, and he stooped down 
and clasped her closely in h's arms, and 
their lips met. And as they stood in 
front of the mirror, another couple ex- 
actly like them, embraced behind the 
deck. 

They had heard nothing — neither the 
noise of the key, nor the creaking of the 
door, but suddenly Henrietta, with a 
loud cry, pushed Limousin av;ay with 
both her arms, and they saw Parent 
v;ho was looking at them, livid wilh rage, 
without his shoes on, and his hat over 
his forehead. He locked at them, one 
after the other, with a quick glance of 
i is eyes without moving his head. He 
j:temed possessed, and then, without say- 
ing a word, he threw himself on Limou- 
sin, seized him as if he were going to 
strangle him, and flung him into the oi>- 
posite corner of the room so violently, 
that the lover lost his balance, and 
clutching 2t the air with his hands 
banged his head against the wall. 

But when Henriette saw that her hus 
band was going to murder her lover, sh 



MONSIEUR PARENT 



Q7 



threw herself on to Parent, seized him 
by the neck, and digging her ten deli- 
cate and rosy fingers into his neck, she 
squeezed him so tightly, with all the 
vigor of a desperate woman, that the 
bloDd spurted out under her nails, and 
she bit his shoulder, as if she wished to 
tear it with her teeth. Parent, half- 
fitrangled and choked, loosened his hold 
on Limousin in order to shake off his 
wife, who was han2:ing on to his neck; 
and putt'ng his arms round her waist, he 
flung her also to the other *jnd of the 
drawing-room. 

Then, as his passion was short-lived, 
like that of most good-tempered men, 
and as his strength was soon exhausted, 
he remained standing between the two, 
panting, worn out, not knowing what to 
do next. His brute fury had expended 
itself in that effort, like the froth of a 
bottle of champagne, and his unwonted 
energy ended in a want of breath. As 
soon as he could speak, however, he 
said: "Go away — both of you — imme- 
diately — go away!" 

Limousin remained motionless in his 
corner, against the wall, too startled to 
understand anything as yet, too fright- 
ened to move a finger; while Henriette, 
with her hands resting on a small, round 
table, her head bent forward, with her 
hair hanging down, th^^ bodice of her 
dress unfastened and bosom bare, waited 
like a wild animal which is about to 
spring. Parent went on, in a stronger 
voice: **Go away immediately. Get 
out of the house!" 

His wife, however, seeing that he had 
got over his first exasperation, grew 
bolder, drew he-self up, tooK two steps 
toward him, and grown almost insolent 
already, she said: "Have you lost your 



head? What is the matter with you? 
What is the meaning of this unjustifiable 
violence?" But he turned toward her, 
and raising his fist to strike her, he 
stammered out: "Oh! Oh! this is too 
much — too much! I heard everything! 
Everything! Do you understand? 
Everything! you wretch — you wretch; 
you are two wretches! Get out of the 
house — both of you! Immediately — or 
I shall kill you! Leave the house!" 

She saw that it was all over, and that 
he knew everything, that she could not 
prove her innocence, and that she must 
comply, but all her impudence had re- 
turned to her, and her hatred for the 
man, wliich was aroused now, drove her 
to audacity, making her feel the need 
of bravado, and of defying him. So 
she said in a clear voice: "Come, 
Limousin, as he is going to turn me out. 
of doors, I will go to your lodgings 
v;ith you." 

But Limousin did not move; and 
Parent, in a fresh access of rage cried 
out: "Go, will you! — go, you wretches! 
— or else! — or else!" and he seized a 
chair and whirled it over his head. 

Then Henrietta walked quickly across 
the room, took her lover by the arm, 
dragged him from the wall, to which he 
appeared fixed, and led him toward the 
door, saying: "Do come, my friend. 
You see that the man is mad. Do 
ccme!" 

As she went out, she tuined round to 
her husband, trying to think of some- 
thing that she could do, something that 
she could invent to wound him to the 
heart as she left the house. An idea 
struck her, one of those venomous 
deadly ideas in which all a woman's per- 
fidy shows itself, and she said reso- 



98 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



lutely: "I am going to take my child 
with me." 

Parent was stupefied and stammered: 
"Your — your child? You dare to talk 
of your child? You venture — you ven- 
ture to ask for your child — after — 
after — Oh! oh! that is too much! Go, 
you horrid wretch ! Go ! " She went up 
to him again, almost smiling, avenged 
already, and defying him, standing close 
to him, and face to face, she said: "I 
want my child, and you have no right 
to keep him, because he is not yours. 
Do you understand? He is not yours — 
he is Limousin's." 

And Parent cried out in bewilder- 
ment: "You lie — you lie — you wretch!" 

But she continued: "You fool! Every- 
body knows it, except you. I tell you, 
this is his father. You need only look 
at him, to see it — " 

Parent staggerea back from her, and 
then he suddenly turned round, took a 
candle and rushed into the next room. 
Almost immediately, however, he re- 
turned, carrying little George wrapped 
up in his bedclothes, and the child, who 
had been suddenly awakened, was cry- 
ing from fright. Parent threw him into 
his wife's arms, and then, without saying 
anything m'^re he pushed her roughly 
out, toward the stairs, where Limousin 
was waiting, from motives of prudence. 

Then he shut the door again, double- 
locked it, and bolted it, and he had 
scarcely got into the drawing-room, 
when he fell full length on the floor. 



II. 



Parent lived alone, quite alone. Dur- 
ing the five weeks that followed their 
separation, the feeling of surprise at his 



new life prevented him from thinking 
much. He had resumed his bachelor 
life, his habits of lounging about, and 
he took his meals at a restaurant, as he 
had done formerly. As he had wished 
to avoid any scandal, he made his wife 
an allowance, which was settled by their 
lawyers. By degrees, however, the 
thoughts of the child began to haunt 
him. Often, when he was at home alone 
at night, he suddenly thought he heard 
George calling out "Papa," and his heart 
would begin to beat. One night he got 
up quickly and opened the door to see 
whether, by chance, the child might have 
returned, like dogs or pigeons do. Why 
should a child have less instinct than an 
animal? 

After finding that he was mistaken, he 
went and sat down in his armchair again 
and thought of the boy. Finally he 
thought of him for hours, and whole 
days. It was not only a moral, but still 
more a physical obsession, a nervous 
longing to kiss him, to hold and fondle 
him, to take him on to his knees and 
dance him. He felt the child's little 
arms around his neck, the little mouth 
pressing a kiss on his beard, the soft 
hair tickling his cheeks, and the remem- 
brance of all those childish ways made 
him suffer like the desire for some loved 
woman who has run away. Twenty or 
a hundred times a day he asked himself 
the question, whether he was or was not 
George's father, and at night, especially, 
he indulged in interminable speculations 
on the point, and almost before he wa? 
in bed. Every night he recommenced 
the same series of despairing arguments. 

After his wife's departure, he had at 
first not felt the slightest doubt; cer- 
tainly the child v/as Limousin's, but by 



MONSIEUR PARENT 



9^ 



degrees he began to waver. Henriette's 
words could not be of any value. She 
had merely braved him, and tried to 
drive him to desperation, and calmly 
weighing the pros and cons, there 
seemed to be every chance that she had 
hed, though perhaps only Limousin 
could tell the truth. But how was he 
to find it out, how cculd he question 
him or persuade him to confess the real 
facts? 

Sometimes Parent would get up in the 
middle of the night, fully determined to 
go and see Limousin and to beg him, to 
offer him anything he wanted, to put an 
end to this intolerable misery. Then he 
would go back icy bed in despair, reflect- 
ing that her lo'^er would, no doubt, also 
lie! He wouM in fact be sure to lie, in 
order to a^oid losing the child, if he 
were really his father. What could he, 
Parent, do then? Absolutely nothing! 

And he began to feel sorry that he 
had thus suddenly brought about the 
crisis, that he had not taken time for re- 
flection, that he had not waited and dis- 
simulated for a month or two, so as to 
find out for himself. He ought to have 
pretended to suspect nothing, and have 
allowed them to betray themselves at 
their leisure. It would have been enough 
for him, to see the other kiss the child, 
to guess and to understand. A friend 
does not kiss a child as a father does. 
He should have watched them behind 
the doors. Why had he not thought of 
that? If Limousin, when left alone with 
George, had not at once taken him up, 
clasped him in his arms and kissed him 
passionately, if he had looked on indif- 
ferently while he was playing, without 
taking any notice of him, no doubt or 
hesitation could have been possible: in 



that case he would not have been the 
father, he would not have thought that 
he was, would not have felt that he was. 
Thus Parent would have kept the child, 
while he got rid of the mother, and he 
would have been happy, perfectly 
happy. 

He tossed about in bed, hot and un- 
happy, trying to recollect Limousin's 
ways with the child. But he could not 
remember anything suspicious, not a 
gesture, not a look, neither word nor 
caress. And then the child's mother 
took very little notice of him; if she 
had him by her lover, she would, no 
doubt, have loved him more. 

They had, therefore, separated him 
from his son, out of vengeance, from 
cruelty, to punish him for having sur- 
prised them, and he made up his mind 
to go the next morning and obtain the 
magistrate's assistance to gain possession 
of George, but almost as soon as he had 
formed that resolution, he felt assured 
of the contrary. From the moment that 
Limousin had been Henriette's lover, 
her adored lover, she would certainly 
have given herself up to him, from the 
very first, with that ardor of self-aban- 
donment which belongs to women who 
love. The cold reserve which she had 
always shown in her intimate relations 
with him, Parent, was surely also an 
obstacle to her bearing him a son. 

In that case he would be claiming, he 
would take with him, constantly keep 
and look after, the child of another man. 
He would not be able to look at him, 
kiss him, hear him say "Papa" without 
being struck and tortured by the 
thought, **He is not my child." He was 
going to condemn himself to that tor- 
ture, and that wretched life every mo- 



JOO 



vVORKS OF GUV DE MAUPASSANT 



ment! No, it would be better to live 
alone, to grow old alone, and to die 

alone. 

And every day and every night, these 
dreadful doubts and suiferings, which 
nothing could calm or end, would recom- 
mence. Especially did he dread the dark- 
ness of the evening, the melancholy feel- 
ing of the twilight. A flood of sorrow 
would invade his heart, a torrent of de- 
spair, which threatened to overwhelm 
him and drive him mad. He was as 
frightened of his own thoughts as men 
are of criminals, and he fled before them 
as one does from wild beasts. Above 
all things he feared his empty, dark, 
horrible dwelling, and the deserted 
streets, in which, here and there, a gas 
lamp flickers, where the isolated foot 
passenger whom one hears in the distance 
seems to be a night-prowler, and makes 
one walk faster or slower, according to 
whether he is coming toward you or 
following you. 

And in spite of himself, and by in- 
stinct, Parent went in the direction of 
the broad, well-lighted, populous streets. 
The Hght and the crowd attracted him, 
occupied him mind and distracted his 
thoughts, and when he was tired walk- 
ing aimlessly about among the moving 
crowd, when he saw the foot passengers 
becoming more scarce, and the pave- 
ments less crowded, the fear of solitude 
and silence drove him into some large 
caje full of drinkers and of light. He 
went there as a fly comes to a candle; 
he used to si: down at one of the little 
round tables and ask for a hock* which 
he used to drink slowly, feeling uneasy 
every time that a customer got up to 
go. He would have liked to take him 
by the arm. hold him back and bee him 



to stay a little longer, so much did lie 
dread the time when the waiter would 
come up to him and say angrily: "Come, 
Monsieur, it is closing time!' 

Every evening he would stop till the 
very last. He saw them carry in the 
tables, turn out the gas jets one by one, 
except his and that at the counter. He 
looked unhappily at the cashier counting 
the money and locking it up in the 
drawer, and then he Vv^ent, being usually 
pushed out by the waiters, who mur- 
mured: "Another one who has too 
much! One would think he had no 
place to sleep in." 

And each night as soon as he was 
alone in the dark street, he began to 
think of George again, and to rack hi? 
brains in trying to discover whether or 
not he was this child's father. 

He thus got into the habit of going to 
the beer houses, where the continual 
elbowing of the drinkers brings you in 

contact with a familiar and silent public, 
where the clouds of tobacco smoke lull 
disquietude, while the heavy beer dulls 
the mind and calms the heart. He al- 
most lived there. He was scarcely up, 
before he went there to find people to 
occupy his looks and his thoughts, and 
soon, as he became too listless to move, 
he took his meals there. About twelve 
o'clock he used to rap on the marble 
table, and the waiter would quickly 
bring a plate, a glass, a table napkin, 
and his lunch, when he had ordered it 
When he had finished, he would slowly 
drink his cup of black coffee, with his 
eyes fixed on the decanter of brandy, 
which would soon procure him an hour 
or two of forgetfulness. First of all he 



*Glass of Bavarian beer. 



MONSIEUR PARENT 



101 



would dip his lips into the cognac, as if 
Lo get the flavor of it with the tip of 
his tongue. Then he would throw his 
head back and pour it into his mouth, 
drop by drop, and turn the strong liquor 
over on his palate, his gums, and the 
mucous membrane of his cheeks; then 
he would swallow it slowly, to feel it 
going down his throat, and into his 
Stomach. 

Thus, alter every meal, he, during 
more than an hour, sipped three or four 
small ghsses of brandy which stupefied 
him by degrees; then, having drunk it, 
be used to raise himself up on the seat 
covered with red velvet, pull his trou- 
sers up, and his waistcoat down, so as to 
cover the linen which appeared between 
the tv/o, draw down his shirt cuffs and 
take up the newspapers again, which he 
had already read in the morning, and 
read them all throu^^h again, from begin- 
ning to end. Between four and five 
o'clock he would go for a walk on the 
boulevards, to get a little fresh air, as he 
used to say, and then come back to the 
seat which had been reserved for him, 
and ask for his absinthe. He used to 
talk to the regular customers, whose ac- 
quaintance he had made. They dis- 
cussed the news of the day, and political 
events, and that carried him on till din- 
ner-time, and he spent the evening as 
he had the afternoon, until it was time 
to close. 

It was a terrible moment for him, 
when he was obliged to go out into the 
dark, and into the empty room full of 
dreadful recollections, of horrible 
thoughts, and of mental agony. He no 
longer saw any of his old friends, none 
of his relations, nobody who might re- 
mind hiiTi oi" tis i>ast life. Put as his 



apartments were a hell to him, he took a 
room in a large hotel, a good room on 
the ground floor, so as to see the 
passers-by. He was no longer alone in 
that great building; he felt people 
swarming round him, he heard voices in 
the adjoining rooms, and when his for- 
mer sufferings revived at the sl^rht of his 
bed which was turned back, and of his 
solitary fireplace, he went out into the 
wide passages and walked up and down 
them like a sentinel, before all the 
closed doors, and looked sadly at the 
choes standing in couples outside each, 
v/omen's little boots by the side of men's 
thick ones, and he thought that no doubt 
all these people were happy, and were 
sleeping sweetly side by side or in each 
other's arms, in their warm beds. 

Five years passed thus ; five miserable 
years with no other events except from 
time to time a passing love affair. But 
one day when he was taking his usual 
walk between the Madeleine and the Rue 
Drouot, he suddenly saw a lady, whose 
bearing struck him. A tall gentlemai. 
and a child were with her, and all three 
were v;alking in front of him. He asK^d 
himself v/here he had seen them beff re, 
when suddenly he recognized a mr>ve- 
ment of her hand; it was his wife, his 
wife with Limousin and his chile., his 
little George. 

His heart beat as if it would si^ftocate 
him, but he did not stop, for he wished 
to see them and he followed them. 
They looked like a family of /.he better 
middle class. Henriette was leaning on 
Paul's a'm and speaking to him in a low 
voice and looking at him 'sideways oc« 
casionally. Parent saw her side face, 
and recognized its gracefv.i outlines, the 
movements of her lips, her smile, and 



102 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



her caressing looks, but the child chiefly 
took up his attention. How tall and 
strong he was! Parent could not see 
his face, but only his long, fair curls. 
That tall boy with bare legs, who was 
walking by his mother's side like a little 
man, was George. 

He saw them suddenly all three, as 
they stopped in front of a shop. Limou- 
sin had grown very gray, had aged, and 
was thmner; his wife, on the contrary, 
was as young looking as ever, and had 
grown stouter; George he would not 
have recognized, he was so different to 
what he had been formerly. 

They went on again, and Parent fol- 
lowed them, then walked on quickly, 
passed them and then turned round, so 
as to meet them face to face. As he 
passed the chiia he felt a mad 'longing 
to take him into his arms and run off 
with him, and he knocked against him, 
accidentally as it were. The boy turned 
round and looked at the clumsy man 
angrily, and Parent went off hastily, 
struck and hurt by the look. He slunk 
off Kke a thief, seized by a horrible fear 
lest he should have been seen and recog- 
nized by his wife and her lover, and 
he went to his cafe without stopping, 
fell breathless into his chair, and that 
evening he drank three absinthes. 

For four months he felt the pain of 
that meeting in his heart. Every night 
he saw the three again, happy and tran- 
quil, father, mother, and child walking 
on the boulevard before going in to 
dinner, and that new vision effaced the 
old one. It was another matter, another 
hallucination, now, and also a fresh 
pain. Little George, his little George, 
the child he had so much loved and so 
often kissed formerly, disappeared in the 



far distance and he saw a new one, like 
a brother of the first, a little boy jk.. 
bare legs, who did not know him! He 
suffered terribly at that thought. The 
child's love was dead; there was no 
bond between them ; the child would not 
have held out his arms when he saw 
him. He had even looked at him 
angrily. 

Then by degrees he grew calmer, his 
mental torture diminished, the image 
that had appeared to his eyes and 
which haunted his nights became more 
indistinct and less frequent. He began 
once more to live like everybody else, 
like all those idle people who drink beer 
off marble-topped tables and wear out 
the seats of their trousers on the thread* 
bare velvet of the couches. 

He grew old amid the smoke from 
pipes, lost his hair under the gas lights, 
looked upon his weekly bath, on his 
fortnightly visit to the barber's to have 
his hair cut, and on the purchase of a 
new coat or hat, as an event. When he 
got to his caje after buying a new hat 
he used to look at himself in the glass 
for a long time before sitting down, and 
would take it off and put it on again 
several times following, and at last ask 
his friend, the lady at the bar, who 
watched him with interest, whether she 
thought it suited him. 

Two or three times a year he went to 
the theater, and in the summer he 
sometimes spent his evenings at one of 
the open air concerts in the Champs- 
Elysees. He brought back from them 
some airs which ran in his head foi 
several weeks, and which he even hum- 
med, beating time with his foot, while 
he was drinking his beer, and so the 
years followed each other, slow, mono- 



MONSIEUR PARENT 



105 



tonous, and long, because they were 
quite uneventful. 

He did not feel them glide past him. 
He went on toward death without fear 
or agitation, sitting at a table in a caj^, 
and only the great glass against which 
he rested his head, which was every day 
becoming balder, reflected the ravages 
of time, which flies and devours men, 
poor men. 

He only very rarely now thought of 
the terrible drama which had wrecked 
his life, for twenty years had passed 
since that torrible evening, but the life 
he had led since then had worn him out, 
and the landlord of his caje would often 
say to him: "You ought to pull your- 
self together a little. Monsieur Parent; 
you should get some fresh air and go 
into the country! I assure you that you 
have changed very much within the last 
few months." And when his customer 
had gone out, he used to say to the bar- 
maid: "That poor Monsieur Parent is 
booked for another world; it is no good 
never to go out of Paris. Advise Mm to 
go out of town for a day occasionally, 
he has confidence in you. It is nice 
weather, and will do him good." And 
she, full of pity and good-will for such 
a regular customer, said to Parent every 
day: "Come, Monsieur, make up your 
mind to get a little fresh air, it is so 
charming in the country when the 
weather is fine. Oh! if I could, I would 
spend my life there.'* 

And she told him her dreams, the 
simple and poetical dreams of all the 
poor girls who are shut up from one 
year's end to the other in a shop and 
who see the noisy life of the streets go 
by while they think of the calm and 
pleasant life in the country, under the 



bright sun shining on the meadows, of 
deep woods and clear rivers, of cows 
lying in the grass and of all the differ- 
ent flowers, blue, red, yellow, purple^ 
lilac, pink, and white, which are so 
pretty, so fresh, so sweet, all the wild 
flowers which one picks as one walks. 

She liked to speak to him frequently 
of her continual, unrealized and unreal- 
izable longing, and he, an old man with- 
out hope, was fond of listening to her^ 
and used to go and sit near the counter 
to talk to Mademoiselle Zoe and to dis- 
cuss the country with her. Then, by 
degrees he was seized by a vague desire 
to go just once and see whether it was 
really so pleasant there, as she said, 
outside the walls of the great city, and 
so one morning he said to her: "Do 
you know where one can get a good 
lunch in the neighborhood of Paris?" 

"Go to the 'Terrace' at Saint-Ger- 
main," 

He had been there formerly, just afteif 
he had got engaged, and so he made up 
his mind to go there again, and he chose 
a Sunday, without any special reason, 
but merely because people generally do 
go out on Sundays, even when they have 
nothing to do all the week. So one Sun- 
day morning he went to Saint-Germain. 
It was at the beginning of July, on a 
very bright and hot day. Sitting by the 
door of the railway-carriage, he watched 
the trees and the strangely built little 
bouses in the outskirts of Paris fly past- 
He felt low-spirited, and vexed at hav- 
ing yielded to that new longing, and at 
having broken through his usual habits. 
The view, which was continually chang- 
ing, and always the same, wearied him. 
He was thirsty; he would have liked to 
get out at every station and sit down 



104 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



in the cajt which he saw outside and 
drink a bock or two, and then take the 
first train back to Paris. And then, the 
journey seemed very long to him. He 
used to remain sitting for whole days, 
as long as ha had the same motionless 
objects before his eyes, but he found 
it very trying and fatiguing to remain 
sitting while he was being whirled along, 
and to see the v/hole country fly by, 
while he himself was motionless. 

However, he found the Seine interest- 
ing, every time he crossed it. Under the 
bridge at Chatou he saw some skiffs go- 
ing at great pace under the vigorous 
strokes cf the bare -armed oarsmen, and 
he thought: 'There are some fellows 
who are certainly enjoying themselves!'* 
And then the train entered the tunnel 
just before you get to the station at 
Saint-Germain, and soon stopped at the 
arrival platform, where Parent got out, 
and v/alked slowly, for he already felt 
tired, toward the Terrace, with his hands 
behind his back, and when he got to the 
iron balustrade, he stopped to look at 
the d:st:int horizon. 

The vast plain spread out before him 
like the sea, green, and studded with 
large villages, almost as populous as 
towns. White roads crossed it, and it 
was well wooded in places ; the ponds at 
Vesinet glistened like plates of silver, 
and the distant ridges of Sannois and 
Argenteuil were covered with light, blu- 
ish mist, so that they could scarcely be 
distinguished. The sun bathed the 
whole landscape in its full warm light, 
and the Seine, which twined like an end- 
less serpent through the plain, flowed 
round the villages and along the slopes. 
parent inhaled the warm breeze which 
seemed to make his heart young again. 



to enliven his spirits, and to vivify his 
blood, and said to himself: "It is very 
nice here." 

Then he went on a few steps, and 
stopped again to look about him, and 
the utter misery of his existence seemed 
to be brought out into full relief by the 
intense light which inundated the coun- 
try. He saw his twenty years of taje- 
life, dull, ro.onotonous, heart-breaking 
He might have traveled like others did, 
have gone among foreigners, to unknown 
countries beyond the sea, have interested 
himself somewhat in everything which 
other men are passionately devoted to, 
in arts and sciences, he might have en- 
joyed life in a thousand forms, that 
mysterious Hfe which i- either charm.- 
ing or painful, constantly changing, al- 
ways inexplicable and strange. 

Now, however, it was too late. He 
would go on drinking hock after bock 
until he died, without any family, with- 
out friends, without hope, without any 
curiosity about anything, and he was 
seized with a feeling of misery and a 
wish to run away, to hide himself in 
Paris, in his ca]e and his bcf uddlement ! 
All the thoughts, all the dreams, all the 
desires which are dormant in the sloth 
of the stagnating hearts, had ireawak- 
ened, brought to life by those rays of 
sunlight on the plain. 

He felt that if he were to remain there 
any longer, he should lose his head, and 
so he made haste to get to the PaviHon 
Henri IV. for lunch, to try and forget 
his troubles under the influence of wine 
and alcohol, and at any rate to have 
some one to speak to. 

He took a small table in one of the 
arbors, from which one can see all the 
surrounding country, ordered his lunch 



MONSIEUR PARENT 



105 



and asked to be served at once. Then 
some more people arrived and sat down 
at tables near him and he felt more 
comfortable; he was no longer alone. 
Three persons were lunching near him, 
and he looked at them two or three 
times without seeing them clearly, as 
one looks at total strangers. "Rut sud- 
denly a woman's voice sent a shiver 
through him which seemed to penetrate 
to his very marrow. ''George," it bad 
said, '*will you carve the chicken?" An- 
other voice repHed : '*Yes, mamma." 

Parent looked '*p, and he understood, 
he guessed immediately v\rho those peo- 
ple were! He should certainly not have 
known them again. His wife had grown 
quite white and very stout, an old, seri- 
ous, respectable lady, and she held her 
head forward as she ate, for fear of 
spotting her dresc, although she had a 
table napkin tucked under her chin. 
George had become a man; he had a 
slight beard, that unequal and almost 
colorless beard which fringes the cheeks 
of youths. He wore a high hat, a white 
waistcoat, and a monocle — because it 
looked dandified, no doubt. Parent 
looked at him in astonishment! Was 
that George, his son? No, he did not 
know that young man; there could be 
nothing in common between them. Lim- 
ousin had his back to him, and v/as eat- 
ing, with his shoulders rather bent. 

Well, all three of them seemed happy 
and satisfied; they came and dined in 
the country, at well-known restaurants. 
They had had a calm and pleasant exis- 
tence, a family existence in a warm and 
comfortable house, filled with all those 
trifles which make life agreeable, with 
affection, with all those tender words 
«vhich people exchange continually when 



they love each other. They had lived 
thus, thanks to him, Parent, on his 
money, after having deceived him, 
robbed him, ruined him! They had con- 
demned him, the innocent, the simple- 
minded, the jovial man to all the miser- 
ies of solitude, to that abominable life 
which he had led between the pavement 
and the counter, to every moral torture 
and every physical misery! They had 
made him a useless being, who was lost 
and wretched among other people, a 
poor old man without any Dleasures, or 
anything to look forward to, and who 
hoped for nothing from anyone. For 
him, the world was empty, because he 
loved nothing in the world. He might 
go among other nations or go about the 
streets, go into all the houses in Paris, 
open every room, but he would net find 
the beloved face, the face of wife or 
child, that he was in search of, which 
smiles when it sees you, behind any 
door. And that idea worked upon him 
more than any other, thi idea of a door 
which one opens, to see and to embrace 
somebody behind it. 

And that was the fault of those three 
wretches! the fault of that worthless 
woman, of thai infamous friend, and of 
that tall, light-haired lad who put on 
insolent airs. Now, he felt as angry 
with the child as he did with the other 
two! Was he not Limousin's son? 
Would Limousin heve kept him and 
loved him, otherw'sc? Would not 
Limousin very quickly have got rid of 
the mother and of the child if he had 
not felt sure that it was his, certainly 
his? Does anybody bring up other peo- 
ple's children? And now they were 
there, quite close to him, those three 
who had made him suffer so much. 



106 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



Parent looked at them, irritated and 
excited at the recollection of all his 
sufferings and of his despair, and was 
especially exasperated at their placid and 
satisfied looks. He felt inclinec to kill 
them, to throw nis siphon of Seltzer 
water at them, to split open Limousin's 
head, which he every moment bent over 
his plate and raised up again immedi- 
ately. And they continued to live like 
that, without cares or anxiety of any 
kind. No! no! That was really too 
much, after all ! He would avenge him- 
self, he would have his revenge now, on 
the spot, as he had them under his hand. 
But how? He tried to think of some 
means, he pictured such dreadful things 
as one reads of in the newspapers occa- 
sionally, but could not hit on anything 
practical. And he went on drinking to 
excite himself, to give himself courage 
not to allow such an occasion to escape 
him, as he should certainly not meet 
with it again. 

Suddenly an idea struck him, a ter- 
rible idea, and he left off drinking to 
mature it. A smile rose to his lips, and 
he murmured: "I have got them, I have 
got them. We will see; we will see." 

A waiter asked him: "What would 
you like now. Monsieur?" 

"Nothing. Coffee and cognac. The 
best." And he looked at them, as he 
sipped his brandy. There were too 
many people in the restaurant for what 
he wanted to do, so he would wait and 
follow them, for they would be sure to 
walk on the terrace or in the forest. 
When they had got a little distance off, 
he would join them, and then he would 
have his revenge, yes, he would have his 
revenge ! It was certainly not too soon, 
after twenty-three years of suffering. 



Ah! They little guessed what was to 
happen to them. 

They finished their luncheon slowly, 
and they talked in perfect security. 
Parent could not hear what they were 
saying, but he saw their calm move- 
ments, and his wife's face, especially,, ex- 
asperated him. She had assumed a 
haughty air, the air of a stout, devout 
woman, of an irreproachably devout 
woman, sheathed in principles, iron-clad 
in virtue. Then they paid the bill and 
got up. and then he saw Limousin. He 
might have been taken for a retired 
diplomatist, for he looked a man of 
great importance with his soft, white 
whiskers, the tips of which fell on to the 
facings of his coat. 

They went out. George was smoking 
a cigar and had his hat on one side, 
and Pa^*ent followed them. First of all 
they went up and down the terrace, and 
calmly admired the landscape, like peo- 
ple who have well satisfied their hunger, 
and then they went into the forest, and 
Parent rubbed his hands and followed 
them at a distance, hiding himself, so as 
not to excite their suspicion too soon. 
They walked slowly^ enjoying the fresh 
green foliage, and the warm air. Hen- 
riette was holding Limousin's arm and 
walked upright at his side, like a wife 
who is contented, and proud of herself. 
George was cutting off the leaves with 
his stick, and occasionally jumped over 
the ditches by the roadside, like a fiery 
young horse ready to gallop off through 
the trees. 

Parent came up to them by degrees, 
panting rather from excitement and 
fatigue, for he never walked now. He 
soon came up to them, but he was seized 
by fear, an inexplicable fear, and he 



MONSIEUR PARENT 



107 



passed them, so as to turn round and 
aieet them face to face. He walked on, 
his heart beating, tor he knew that they 
were just behind him now, and he said 
to himself: "Come, now is the time. 
Courage! courage! Now is the mo- 
ment!" 

He turned around. They were all 
three sitting on the grass, at the foot of 
a huge tree, and were still talking. He 
made up his mind, and came back 
rapidly, and then stopping in front of 
them in the middle of the road, he said 
abruptly, in a voice broken by emotion: 
"It is I! Here I am! I suppose you 
did not expect me?" They all three 
looked at him carefully, for they thought 
that he was mad, and he continued: 
"One might think that you did not know 
me again. Just look at me! I am 
Parent, Henri Parent. You did not ex- 
pect me, eh? You thought it was all 
over, and that you would never see me 
again. Ah! But here I am once more, 
you see, and now we will have an ex- 
planation." 

Henriette was terrified and hid her 
face in her hands, murmuring: "Oh! 
Good Heavens!" And seeing this 
stranger who seemed to be threatening 
his mother, George sprang up, ready to 
seize him by the collar, while Limousin, 
who was thunderstruck, looked at this 
specter in horror, who, after panting for 
a few moments, continued: "So now 
we will have an explanation; the proper 
moment for it has come! Ah! you de- 
ceived me, you condemned me to the 
life of a convict, and you thought that I 
should never catch you!" 

But the young man took him by the 
shoulders and pushed him back: "Are 
you mad?" he asked. "What do you 



want? Go on your way immediately, or 
I shall give you a thrashing!" But 
Parent replied: "What do I want? I 
want to tell you who these people are." 
George, however, was in a rage and 
shook him; was even going to strike 
him, but the other said: "Just let me 
go. I am your father. There, look 
whether they recognize me now, the 
wretches!" And the alarmed young 
man removed his hands, and turned to 
his mother, while Parent, as soon as he 
was released, went toward her. 

"Well," he said, "tell him who I am, 
you! Tell him that .ny name is Henri 
Parent; that I am his father because 
his name is George Parent ; because you 
are my wife, because you are all three 
living on my money, on the allowance 
of ten thousand francs* which I have 
made you, since I drove you out of my 
house. Will you tell him also why I 
drove you out? Because I surprised 
you with this beggar, this wretch, your 
lover! Tell him what I was, an honor- 
able man, whom you married for my 
money, and v/hom you deceived from 
the very first day. Tell him who you 
are, and who I am." 

He stammered and panted for breath, 
in his rage, and the woman exclaimed in 
heartrending voice: "Paul, Paul, stop 
him ; make him be quiet ; do not let him 
say this before my son!" 

Limousin had also got up, and he said 
in a quite low voice: "Hold your 
tongue! Do understand what you are 
doing!" 

But Parent continued furiously: "I 
quite know what I am doing, and that 
is not all. There is one thing that I 

*About $2000. 



loa 



. ORKb Ut GUY DE IvIAUPASSANT 



will know, something that has tormented 
me for twenty years." 

And then turning to George, who was 
leaning against a tree in consternation, 
he said; "Listen to me. When she leil 
my house, she thought it was not enough 
to have deceived me, but she also 
wanted to drive me to despair. You 
were my only consolation, and she took 
you with her, swearing that I was not 
your fr.ther, but that he was your 
father! Was she lying! I do not know, 
and I have been asking myself the ques- 
tion for the last twenty years." 

He went close up to her, tragic and 
cerrible, and pulling away her hands 
with which she had coverei her face he 
continued: "Well, I call upon you now 
CO tell me which of us two is the father 
of this young man; he or I, your hus- 
band or your lover. Come! Come! tell 
us." Limousin rushed at him, but 
Parent pushed him back, and sneering 
in his fury he said : "Ah ! you are brave 
now! You are braver than you were 
the day you ran out of doors because I 
was going to half murder you. Very 
well! If she will not reply, tell rne 
yourself. You ought to know as well as 
she. Tell me, are you this young fel- 
low's father? Come! Come! Tell 
me!" 

Then he turned to his wife again: "If 
you will not tell me, at any rate tell 
your son. He is a man, now, and he 
has the right to know who is his father. 
I do not know, and I never did know, 
never, never! I canot tell you, my 
boy." He seemed io be losing his senses, 
his voice grew shrill and he worked his 
arms about as if he had an epileptic at- 
tack. "Come! Give me an answer. 
She does not know. I will make a bet 



that she does not know. No — she doefc 
not knuw, by Jove! She used to go to 
bed with both of us ! Ha ! ha ! ha ! No- 
body knows — nobody. How can one 
know such things? You will not know 
either, my boy, you will not know any 
more than I do — never. Look here. 
Ask her — you will fmd that she does not 
know. I do not know either. You can 
choose — yes, you can choose — him or 
me. Choose. Good evening. It is ill 
over. If she makes up her mind to tell 
you, come and let me know, will you, I 
am living at the Hotel des Continents. 
I should be glad to know. Good even- 
ing; I hope you will enjoy yourselves 
very much." 

And he went away gesticulating and 
talking to himself under the tall trees, 
into the empty, cool air, which was full 
of the smell of the sap. He did not 
turn round to look at them, but went 
straight on, walking under the stimulus 
of his rage, under a storm of passion, 
with that one fixed idea in his mind, and 
presently he found himself outside the 
station. A train was rbout to start and 
he got in. During the jou-ney, his anger 
calmed down, he regained his senses and 
returned to Paris, astonished at his own 
boldness, and feeling as full of aches 
ard fatigue, as if he had broken some 
bones, but nevertheless he went to have 
a bock af h*s cafe. 

When she saw him come in, Made- 
moiselle Zoe was surprised and said: 
"What! back already? Are you tired?" 

"I am tired — ^very tired. You know, 
when one is net used to going out — but 
I have done with it. I shall not go into 
the country again. I had better have 
stopped here. For the future, I shall 
not stir out again." 



USELESS BEAUTY lo 

But sne could not persuade him to tell it, and for the first time in his life he 
her about his little excursion, although got thoroughly drunk that night, and 
she wanted very much to hear all about had to be carried home. 



Useless Beauty 



A VERY elegant victoria, with two 
beautiful blacK. nurses, was drawn up in 
front of the mansion. It was a day in 
the latter end of June, about half past 
five in the afternoon, and the sun shone 
warm and bright into the large court- 
yard. 

The Countess de Mascaret came down 
just as her husband, who was coming 
home, appeared in the carriage entrance. 
He stopped for a few moments to look 
at his wife and grew rather pale. She 
was ver}'' beautiful, graceful, and distin- 
guished looking, with her long oval face, 
her complexion hke gilt ivory, her large 
gray eyes, and her black hair; and she 
got into her carriage without looking at 
him, without even seeming to have no- 
ticed him, with such a particularly high- 
bred air, that the furious jealousy by 
which he had been devoured for so long 
again gnawed at his heart. He went up 
to her and said: "You are going for a 
drive?" 

She merely replied disdainfully: 
"You see I am!" 

"In the Bois de Boulogne?" 

"Most probably." 

"May 1 come with you?" 

"The carriage belongs to you." 

Without being surprised at the tone 
of voice in which she answered him, he 
got in and sat down by his wife's side, 
and said: "Bois de Boulogne." The 



footman jumped up by the coachman's 
side, and the horses as usual pawed the 
ground and shook their heads until they 
were in the street. Husband and wife 
sat side by side, without speaking. Ha 
v/as thinking how to begin a conversa- 
tion, but she maintained such an ob- 
stin:itely hard look, that he did not ven- 
ture to make the attempt. At last, 
hov;evcr, he cunningly, accidentally as it 
were, touched the Countess's gloved 
hand with his own, but she drew her 
arm away, with a movement which was 
so expressive of disgust, that he re- 
mained thoughtful, in spite of his usual 
authoritative and despotic character. 
"Gabrielle!" said he at last. 

"What do you want?" 

*'J think you are looking adorable." 

She did not reply, but vemained lying 
back in che carriage, looking like an 
irritated queen. By that time they were 
driving up the Champs-Elysees, toward 
the Arc de Triomphe. That immense 
monument, at the end of the long ave> 
nue, raised its colossal arch against the 
red sky, and the sun seemed to be sink- 
ing on to it, showering fiery dust on it 
from the sky. 

The stream of carriages, with the sun 
reflecting from the bright, plated harness 
and the shining lamps, were like a 
double current flowing, one toward the 
town and one toward the wood, and the 



110 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



Count de Mascaret continued: "My 
dear Gabrielle!" 

Then, unable to bear it any longer, 
she replied in an exasperated voice: 
"Oh! do leave me in peace, pray! I 
am not even at liberty to have my car- 
riage to myself, now." He, however, 
pretended not to hear her, and con- 
tinued: "You have never looked so 
pretty as you do to-day." 

Her patience was decidedly at an end, 
and she replied with irrepressible 
anger: "You are wrong to notice it, 
for I swear to you that I will never 
have anything to do with you in that 
way again." He was stupefied and agi- 
tated, and his violent nature gaining the 
upper hand, he exclaimed: "What do 
you mean by that?" in such a manner 
as revealed rather the brutal master than 
the anxorous man. But she replied in a 
low voice, so that the servants might 
not hear, amid the deafening noise of 
the wheels: 

"Ah! What do I mean by that? 
What do I mean by that? Now I 
recognize you again! Do you want me 
to tell everything?'* 

"Yes." 

"Everything that has been on my 
heart, since I have been the victim of 
your terrible selfishness?" 

He had grown red with surprise and 
anger, and he growled between his closed 
teeth: "Yes, tell me everything." 

He was a tall, broad-shouldered man, 
with a big, red beard, a handsome man, 
a nobleman, a man of the world, who 
passed as a perfect husband and an ex- 
cellent father, and now for the first time 
since they had started she turned toward 
him, and looked him full in the face: 
"Ah! You will hear some disagreeable 



things, but you must know that I am 
prepared for everything, that I fear 
nothing, and you less than anyone, to- 
day." 

He also was looking into her eyes, 
and already was shaking with passion; 
then he said in a low voice: "You are 
mad." 

"No, but i will no longer be the vic- 
tim of the hateful penalty of maternity, 
which you have inflicted on me for 
eleven years! I wish to live like a 
woman of the world, as I have the right 
to do, as all women have the right to 
do." 

He suddenly grew pale again, and 
stammered: "I do not understand you." 

"Oh! yes; you understand me well 
enough. It is now three months since I 
had my last child, and as I am still 
very beautiful, and as, in spite of all 
your efforts you cannot spoil my figure, 
as you just now perceived, when you 
saw me on the outside flight of steps, 
you think it is time that I should be- 
come enceinte again." 

"But you are talking nonsense!" 

"No, I am not; I am thirty, and I 
have had seven children, and we have 
been married eleven years, and you hope 
that this will go on for ten years longer, 
after which you will leave off being 
jealous." 

He seized her arm and squeezed it, 
saying: "I will not allow you to talk 
to me like that, for long." 

"And I shall talk to you till the end, 
until I have finished all I have to say to 
you, and if you try to prevent me, I 
shall raise my voice so that the two 
servants, who are on the box, may hear. 
I only allowed you to come with me for 
that obiect, for I have these witnesses, 



USELESS BEAUTY 



111 



who will oblige you to listen to me, and 
to contain yourseil; so now, pay atten- 
tion to what I say. I have always felt 
an antipathy for you, and I have always 
let you see it, for I have never lied. 
Monsieur. You married me in spite of 
myself; you forced my parents, who 
were in embarrassed circumstances, to 
give me to you, because you were rich, 
and they obliged me to marry you, in 
spite of my tears. 

"So you bought me, and as soon as I 
was in your oower, as soon as I had be- 
come your companion, ready to attach 
myself to you, to forget your coercive 
and threatening proceedings, in order 
that I might only remember that I ought 
to be a devoted wife and to love you as 
much as it might be possible for me to 
love you, you became jealous — ^you — as 
no man has ever been before, with the 
base, ignoble jealousy of a spy, which 
was as degrading for you as it was for 
me. I had not been married eight 
months, when you suspected me of every 
perfidiousness, and you even told me so. 
What a disgrace ! And as you could not 
prevent me from being beautiful, and 
from pleasing people, from being called 
in drawing-rooms, and also in the news- 
papers, one of the most beautiful women 
in Paris, you tried everything you could 
think of to keep admirers from me, and 
you hit upon the abominable idea of 
making me spend my life in a constant 
state of motherhood, until the time when 
I should disgust every man. Oh ! do not 
deny it! I did not understand it for 
some time, but then I guessed it. You 
even boasted about it to your sister, who 
told me of it, for she is fond of me and 
was disgusted at your boorish coarseness. 

"Ah! Remember our struggles, doors 



smashed in, and locks forced! For 
eleven years you have condemned me to 
the existence of a brood mare. Then as 
soon as I was pregnant, you grew dis- 
gusted with me, and I saw nothing of 
you for months, and I was sent into the 
country, to the family mansion, among 
fields and meadows, to bring forth my 
child. And when I reappeared, fresh, 
pretty, and indestructible, still seduc- 
tive and constantly surrounded by ad- 
mirers, hoping that at last I should live 
a little like a young rich woman who 
belongs to society, you were seized by 
jealousy again, and you recommenced to 
persecute me with that infamous and 
hateful desire from which you are suf- 
fering at this moment, by my side. And 
it is not the desire of possessing me — • 
for I should never have refused myself 
to you — but it is the wish to make me 
unsightly. 

"Beside this, that abominable and 
mysterious circumstance took place, 
which I was a long time in penetrating 
(but I grew acute by dint of watching 
your thoughts and actions). You at- 
tached yourself to your children with 
all the security which they gave you 
while I bore them in my womb. You 
felt affection for them, with all your 
aversion for me, and in spite of your 
ignoble fears, which were momentarily 
allayed by your pleasure in seeing me a 
mother. 

''Oh! how often have I noticed that 
joy in you ! I have seen it in your eyes 
and guessed it. You loved your chil- 
dren as victories, and not because they 
were of your own blood. They were 
victories over me, over my youth, over 
my beauty, over my charms, over the 
compliments which were paid me, and 



112 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



over those who whispered round me, 
without paying them to me. And you 
are proud of them, you make a parade 
of them, you take them out for drives 
in your coach in the Bois de Boulogne, 
and you give them donkey rides at 
Montmorency. You take them to 
theatrical matinees so that you may be 
seen in the midst of them, and that 
people may say: 'What a kind father!' 
and that it may be repeated." 

He had seized her wrist with savage 
brutality, and squeezed it so violently 
that she was quiet, though she nearly 
cried out with the pain. Then he said 
to her in a v.hisper: 

"I love my children, do you heai? 
What you have just told me is disgrace- 
ful in a mother. But you belong to me ; 
I am master — your master. I can exact 
from you what I like and when I like — 
and I hdve the law on my side." 

He was trying to crush her fingers in 
the strong grip of his large, muscular 
hand, and 3he, livid with pain, tried in 
vain to free them from that vise which 
was crushing +.hem ; the agony made her 
pant, ahd the tcirs came into her eyes. 
'You £ce that I am the master, and the 
stronger," he said. And when he some- 
what loosened his grip, she asked him: 
"Do you think that I am a religious 
woman?" 

He was surprised and stammered: 
"Yes." 

"Do you think that I could lie, if I 
swore to the truth of anything to you, 
before an altar on which Christ's body 
is?" 

"No." 

"Will you go with me to some 
church?" 

"What for?" 



"You shall see. Will you?'* 
"If you absolutely wish it, yes." 
She raised her voice and said: 
"Philip!" And the coachman, bend- 
ing down a little, without taking his 
eyes from his horses, seemed to turn 
his ear alone toward his mistress, who 
said: "Drive to St. Philip-du-Roule's." 
And the victoria, which had reached the 
entrance of the Boise d3 Boulogne, re- 
turned to Paris. 

Husband and wife did not exchange a 
word during the drive. When the car- 
riage stopped before the church, Ma- 
dame de Mascaret jumped out, and en- 
tered it, followed by the Count, a few 
yards behind her. She went, without 
stopping, as far as the choir-screen, and 
falling on her knees at a chair, she 
buried her face in her hands. She 
prayed for a long time, and he, stand- 
ing behind her, could see that she was 
crying. She v/ept noisplessly^ like 
women do weep when they are in great 
and poignant grief. There was a kind 
of undulation in her body, which ended 
in a little sob, hidden and stifled by her 
fingers. 

But Count de Mascaret thought that 
the situation was long drawn out, and 
he touched her on the shoulder. That 
contact recalled her to herself, as if 
she had been ourned, and getting up, 
she looked straight into his eyes. 

"This is what I have to say to you. 
I am afraid of nothing, whatever you 
may do to me. You may kill me if you 
like. One of your children is not yours, 
and one only; that I swear to you be- 
fore God, who hears me here. That is 
the only revenge which was possible for 
me, in return for all your abominable 
male tyrannies, in return for the penal 



USLLLSS BEAUTY 



113 



scivitude of ch'ldbearing to which you 
have condemned me. Who was my 
lover? That you will never know! You 
may suspect everyone, but you will 
never find out. I gave ]-iyself up to 
him, without love and without pleasure, 
only for the sake of betraying you, and 
he made me a mother. Which is his 
child? That also you will never know. 
I have seven; try and find ou!.! I in- 
tended to tell yuu this later, for one 
cannot completely avenge oneself on a 
man by deceiving him, unless he knows 
it. You have driven me to confess it 
to-day; now I h::ve finished." 

She hurried through the church, to- 
ward the open door, expecting to hear 
behind her the quick steps of her hus- 
band whom she had defied, and to be 
knocked to the ground by a blow of his 
fist, but she heard nothing, and reached 
her carriage. She jumped into it at a 
bound, overwhelmed with anguish, and 
breathless with fear; she called out to 
the coachman, "Home!" and the horses 
set off at a quick trot. 

11. 

Th-e Countess de Mascaret was wait- 
ing in her room for dinner time, like a 
criminal sentenced to death av/aits the 
hour of his execution. What was he go- 
ing to do? Had he come home? 
Despotic, passionate, ready for any vio- 
lence as ne was, what was he meditating, 
what had he made up his mind to do? 
There was no sound in the house, and 
every moment she locked at the clock. 
Her maid had come and dressed her for 
the evening, and had then hft the room 
again. Eifrht o'clock struck; almost at 
the same moment there were two knocks 
at the door, and the butler came in and 



told her that dinner was ready. 

"Has the Count come in?" 

"Yes, Madame la Comtesse; be is iu 
the dining-room." 

For a nioment she felt inclined to arm 
herself with a small revolver, which she 
had bought some weeks before, fore- 
seeing the tragedy which was being re- 
hearsed in her heart. But she remem- 
bered that all the children would be 
there, and she took nothing except a 
smelling-bottle. He rose somewhat 
ceremoniously from his chair. They ex- 
changed a slight bow, and sat down. 
The three boys, wiuh their tutor, Abbe 
Martin, were on her ri^ht, and the three 
girls, with Miss Smith, their English 
governess, were on her left. The young- 
est child, who was only three months 
old, lemained upstairs with his nurse. 

The Abbe said grace, as was us'ial 
when there was no company, for the 
children did not come down to dinner 
when there were guests present; then 
they began dinner. The Countess, suf- 
fering from emotion which she had not 
at all calculated upon, remained with 
her eyes cast down, while the Count 
scrutinized, now the three boys, and 
now the three girls with uncertain, un- 
happy looks, which traveled from one 
to the other. Suddenly, pushing his 
wineglass from him, it broke, and the 
wine was soilt on the table-cloth, and 
at the slight noise caused by this little 
accident, the Countess started up from 
her chair, and for {he first time they 
looked at each other. Then, almost 
every moment, in spite of themselves, in 
spite of the irritation of their nerves 
caused by every glance, they did not 
cease to exchange looks, *apid as pistol 
shots- 



UA 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



The Abbe, who felt that there was 
some cause for embarrassment which he 
could not divine, tried to get up a con- 
versation, and started various subjecib, 
but his useless efforts gave rise to no 
ideas and did not bring out a word. The 
Countess, with feminine tact and obey- 
ing the instincts of a woman of the 
world, tried to answer him two or three 
times, but in vain. She could not find 
words, in the perplexity of her mind, 
and her own voice almost frightened 
her in the silence of the large room, 
where nothing else was heard except 
the slight sound of plates and knives 
and forks. 

Suddenly, her husband said to her, 
bending forward: "Here, amid your 
children, will you swear to me that what 
you told me just now is true?" 

The hatred \i'hich was fermenting in 
her veins suddenly roused her, and re- 
plying to that question with the same 
firmness with which she had replied to 
his looks, she raised both her hands, the 
right pointing toward the boys and the 
left toward the girls, and said in a 
firm, resolute voice, and without any 
hesitation: "On the heads of my chil- 
dren, I swear that I have told you the 
truth." 

He got up and throwing his tabb 
napkin on to the table with an exasper- 
ated movement, turned round and flung 
his chair against the wall. Then he 
went out without another word, while 
she, uttering a deep sigh, as if after a 
first victory, went on in a calm voice: 
"You must not pay any attention to 
what your father has just said, m}^ 
darlings; he was very much upset a 
short time ago, but he will be all right 
again, in a few days " 



Then she talked with the Abbe and 
with Miss Smith, and had tender, prett} 
words for all her children; those sweet 
spoiling mother's ways which unlock 
little hearts. 

When dinner was over, she went into 
the drawing-room with all her little fol- 
lowing. She made the elder ones chat- 
ter, and when their bedtime came she 
kissed them for a long time, and then 
went alone into her room. 

She waited, for she had no doubt that 
he would come, and she made up her 
mind then, as her children were not 
with her, to defend her human flesh, as 
she defended her life as a woman of the 
world; and in the pocket of her dress 
she put the little loaded revolver which 
she had bought a few weeks before. 
The hours went by, the hours struck, 
and every sound was hushed in the 
house. Only cabs continued to rumble 
through the streets, but their noise was 
only heard vaguely through the shut- 
tered and curtained windows. 

She waited, energetic and nervous, 
without any fear of him nov/. ready for 
anything, and almost triumphant, lor 
she had found means of torturing him 
continually, during every moment of his 
life. 

But the first gleams of dawn came in 
through the fringe at the bottom of her 
curtains, v/ithout his having come into 
her room, and then she avv^oKe to the 
fact, much to her surprise, that he was 
not coming. Having locked and bolted 
her door, for greater security, she went 
to bed at last, and remained there, with 
her eyes open, thinking, and barely un- 
derstanding it all, without being able^ 
to guess what he was goirg to do. 

When her maid brought her tea, she 



USELESS BEAUTY 



lis 



at the same time gave her a letter from 
her husband. He told her that he was 
going to undertake a longish journey, 
and in a postscript he added ihiit his 
lawyer would provide her with such 
money as she might require for her ex- 
penses. 

III. 

It was at the opera, between two of 
the acts in "Robert the Devil." In the 
stalls, the men were standing up, with 
their hats on, their waistcoats cut very 
low so as to show a large amount of 
white shirt front, in which the gold and 
precious stones of their studs glistened. 
They were looking at the boxes crowded 
with ladies in low dresses, covered with 
diamonds and pearls, women who 
seemed to expand like flowers in that 
illuminated hothouse, where the beauty 
of their faces and the whiteness of their 
shoulders seemed to bloom for inspec- 
tion, in the midst of the music and of 
human voices. 

Two friends, with their backs to the 
orchestra, were scanning those parterres 
of elegance, that exhibition of real or 
false charms, of jewels, of luxury, and 
of pretension which showed itself off 
all round the Grand Theater. One of 
them, Roger de Salnis, said to his com- 
panion, Bernard Grandin: "Just look 
*30w beautiful Countess de Mascaret 
itill is." 

Then the elder, in turn, looked 
through his opera glasses at a tall lady 
in a box opposite, who appeared to be 
still very young, and whose strikir.g 
beauty seemed to appeal to men's eyes 
In every corner of the house. Her pale 
complexion, of an ivory tint, gave her 
the appearance of a statue, while a 



small, diamond coronet glistened on her 
black hair like a cluster of stars. 

When he had looked at her for some 
time, Bernard Grandin replied with a 
jocular accent of sincere conviction: 
"You may well call her beautiful!" 

"How old do you think she is?" 

"Wait a moment. I can tell you ex- 
actly, for I have known her since she was 
a child, and I saw her make her debut 
into society when she was quite a girl. 
She is — she is — thirty — thirty-six," 

"Impossible!" 

"I am sure of it." 

"She looks twenty-five." 

"She has had seven children." 

"It is incredible." 

"And what is more, they are all seven 
alive, as she is a very good mother. I 
go to the house, which is a very quiet 
and pleasant one, occasionally, and she 
presents the phenomenon of the family 
in the midst of the world." 

"How very strange! And have there 
never been any reports about her?" 

"Never." 

"But what about her husbarid? He la 
pecuHar, is he not?" 

"Yes and no. Very likely there ha a 
been a Httle drama between them, one 
of those little domestic dramas which 
one suspects, which one never finds out 
exactly, but which one guesses pretty 
nearly." 

"What is it?" 

"I do not know anyrldng about it, 
Mascaret leads a very fast life now, 
after having been a model husband. 
As long as he remained a good spouse, 
he had a shocking temper and was 
crabbed and easily took offense, but 
since he has been leading his pr'jsent, 
rackety life, he has become quite in- 



116 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



different; but one would guess that he 
has some troable, a worm gnawing some- 
where, for he has aged very much." 

Thereupon the two friends talked 
philosophically for some minutes about 
the secret, unknowable troubles, which 
diJerences of character or perhaps phys- 
ical antipathies, which were not per- 
ceived at first, give rise to in famihes. 
Then Roger de Salnis, who was still 
looking at Madame de Mascar<;t through 
his opera-glasses, said. 

"It is almost incredible that that 
woman has had seven children!" 

"Yes in eleven years; after which, 
when she was thirty, she put a stop to 
her period of production in oider to 
enter into the brilliant period of en- 
tertaining, which does not seem near 
coming to an end." 

"Poor women!" 

"Why do you pity them?" 

"Why? Ah! my dear fellow, just 
consider! Eleven years of maternity, 
for such a woman! What a hell' All 
her youth, all her beauty, every hope of 
success, everv poetical ideal of a bright 
life, sacrificed to that abominable law 
of reproduction which turns the normal 
woman into a mere machine for ma- 
ternity." 

"Whai would you have? It is only 
nature!" 

"Yes, but I say that Nature is our 
enemy, that we must always fight 
against Nature, for she is continually 
bringing us back to an animal state. 
You may be :;ure that God has not 
put anything on this earth that is clean, 
pretty, elegant, or accessory to our 
ideal, but the human brain has done it. 
It is we who have introduced a little 
grace, beautv. unknown charm, and 



mystery into creation by singing about; 
it, interpreting it, by admiring it as 
poets, idealising it as artists, and by 
explaining it as learned men who make 
mistakes, who find ingenious reasons, 
some grace and beauty, some unknown 
charm and mystery in the various 
phenomena of nature. 

"God only created coarse beings, full 
of the germs of disease, and who, after 
a few years of bestial enjoyment, grow 
old and infirm, with all the ugliness 
and all the want of power of human 
decreptitude. He only seems to have 
made them in order that they may re- 
produce their species in a repulsive man- 
ner, and then d.e like ephemeral in- 
sects. I said, reproduce their species in 
a repulsiie manner, and I adhere to 
that expression. What is there as a 
matter of fact, more ignoble and more 
repugnant than that ridiculous act of 
the reproduction of living beings, against; 
which all deHcate minds always have re- 
volted, and always will revolt? Since' 
all the organs which have been invented 
by this economical and malicions 
Creator serve two purposes, why did he 
not choose those that were unsullied, in 
order to intrust them with that sacred 
mission, which is the noblest and the 
most exalted of all human functions? 
The mouth which nourishes the body by 
means of material food, also diffuses J 
rbroad speech and thought. 'Our flesh 
revives itself by means of itself, and at 
the same time, ideas are communicated 
by it. The sense of smell, which gives 
the vital air to the lungs, imparts aD 
the perfumes of the world to the brain: 
the smell of flowers, of woods, of trees, 
of the sea. The ear, which enables us 
to communicate with our fellowmea 



USELESS BEAUTY 



117 



has also allowed us to invent music, to 
create dreams, happiness, the infinite, 
and even physical pleasure, by means of 
sounds ! 

"But one might say that the Creator 
wished to prohibit man from ever en- 
nobling and idealizing his commerce 
with women. Nevertheless, man has 
found love, which is not a bad reply to 
that sly Deity, and he has ornamented 
it so much with literary poetry, that 
woman often forgets the contact she is 
obliged to submit to. Those among us 
who are powerless to deceive themselves 
have invented vice and refined de- 
bauchery, which is another way of laugh- 
mg at God, and of paying homage, im- 
modest homage, to beauty. 

"But the normal man makes chil- 
dren; just a beast that is coupled with 
another by law. 

"Look at that woman! Is it not 
abominable to think that such a jeweJ, 
such a pearl, born to be beautiful, ad- 
mired, feted, and adored, has spent 
eleven years of her life in providing 
heirs for the Count de Mascaret?" 

Bernard Grandin replied with a laugh: 
"There is a great deal of truth in all 
that, but very few people would under- 
stand you." 

Salnis got more and more animated, 
"Do you know how I picture God my- 
self?''* he said. "As an enormous, crea- 
tive organ unknown to us, who scat- 
ters milHons of worlds into space, just 
as one single fish would deposit its 
spawn in the sea. He creates, because 
it is His function as God to do so, but 
He does not know what He is doing, 
and is stupidly prolific in His work, and 
is ignorant of the combinations of all 
kinds which are produced by His scat- 



tered germs. Human thought is a lucky 
little local, passing accident, which was 
totally unforeseen, and is condemned to 
disappear with this earth, and to recom- 
mence perhaps here or elsewhere, the 
same or different, with fresh combina- 
tions of eternally new beginnings. We 
owe it to this slight accident which has 
happened to His intellect, that we are 
very uncoiiifortable in this world which 
was not made for us, which had not 
been prepared to receive us, to lodge 
and feed us, or to satisfy reflecting be-, 
ings, and we owe it to Him also that we 
have to struggle without ceasing against 
what are still called the designs of 
Providence, when we are really refined 
and civilized beings." 

Grandin, who was listening to him 
attentively, as he had long known the 
surprising outbursts of his fancy, asked 
him: "Then you believe that human 
thought is the spontaneous product of 
blind, divine parturition?" 

"Naturally. A fortuitous function 
of the nerve-centers of our brain, like 
some unforeseen chemical action which 
is due to new mixtures, and which also 
resembles a product of electricity, 
caused by friction or the unexpected 
proximity of some substance, and which, 
lastly, resembles the phenomena caused 
by the infinite and fruitful fermenta- 
tions of living matter. 

"But, my dear fellow, the tnith of 
this must be evident to anyone who 
looks about him. If human thought, 
ordained by an omniscient Creator, had 
been intended to be what it has become, 
altogether different from mechanical 
thoughts and resignation, so exacting, 
inquiring, agitated, tormented, would the 
world which was created to receive the 



118 



WO:^KS OF GUY D£ MAUPASSANT 



beings which we now are have been this 
unpleasant little dwelling place for poor 
fools, this salad plot, this rocky, wooded, 
and sphencal kitchen garden where your 
improvident Providence has destined us 
to hve naked, in caves or under trees, 
nourished on the 6esh of slaughtered 
animals, our brethren, or on raw veg- 
etables nourished by the sun and the 
rain? 

"But it is sufficient to reflect for a 
\noment, in order to understand that 
^.his world was not made for such crea- 
\ures as we are. Thought, which is de- 
veloped by a miracle in the nerves of 
the cells and our brain, powerless, igno- 
rant, and confused as it is, and as it will 
always remain, makes all of us who are 
intellectual beings eternal and wretched 
exiles on earth. 

"Look at this earth, as God has given 
it to those who inhabit it. Is it not 
visibly and solely made, planted and 
covered with forests, for the sake of 
animals? What is there for us? Noth- 
ing. And for them? Everything. They 
have nothing to do but to eat, or go 
hunting and eat each other, according 
to their instincts, for God never fore- 
saw gentleness and peaceable manners; 
He only foresaw the death of creatures 
which were bent on destroying and de- 
vouring each other. Are not the quail, 
the pigeon, and the partridge the na- 
tural prey of the hawk? the sheep, 
the stag, and the ox that of the great 
flesh-eating animals, rather than meat 
that has been fattened to be served up 
to us with truffles, which have been un- 
earthed by pigs, for our special benefit? 

"As to ourselves, the more civilized, 
intellectual, and refined we are, the 
more we ought to conquer and subdue 



that animal instinct, which represents 
the will of God in us. And so, in or- 
der to mitigate our lot as brutes, we 
have discovered and made everything, 
beginning with houses, then exquisite 
food, sauces, sweetmeats, pastry, drink, 
stuffs, clothes, ornaments, beds, mat- 
tresses, carriages, railways, and in- 
numerable machines, besides arts and 
sciences, writing and poetry. Every 
ideal comes from us as well as the 
amenities of life, in order to make our 
existence as simple reproducers, for 
which divine Providence solely intended 
us, less monotonous and less hard. 

"Look at this theater. Is there not 
here a human world created by us, un- 
foreseen and unknown by Eternal 
destinies, comprehensible by our minds 
alone, a sensual and intellectual distrac- 
tion, which has been invented solely by 
and for that discontented and restless 
little animal that v/e are. 

"Look at that wom^an, Madame de 
Mascaret. God intended her to live in 
a cave naked, or wrapped up in the 
skins of wild animals, but is she not 
better as she is? But, speaking of her, 
does anyone know why and how her 
brute of a husband, having such a com- 
panion by his side, and especially after 
having been boorish enough to make 
her a mother seven times, has suddenly 
left her, to run after bad women?" 

Grandin replied: "Oh! my dear fel- 
low, this is probably the only reason. 
He found that always living with her 
v;as becoming too expensive in the end, 
and from reasons of domestic economy, 
he has arrived at the same principles 
which you lay down as a philosopher." 

Just then the curtain rose for the 



USELESS BEAUTY 



il) 



third act, and they turned round, took 
off their hats, and sat down. 

IV. 

The Count and Countess Mascaret 
were sitting side by side in the carriage 
which was taking them home from the 
opera, without speaking. But suddenly 
the husband said to his wife: "Ga- 
brielle!" 

"What do you want?" 

"Don't you think that this has lasted 
long enough?" 

"What?^' 

"The horrible punishment to which 
you have condemned me for the last 
six years." 

"What do you want? I cannot help 
it." 

"Then tell me which of them it is?" 

"Never." 

"Think that I can no longer see my 
children or feel them round me, with- 
out having my heart burdened v;ith this 
doubt. Tell me which of them it is, 
and I swear that I will forgive you, and 
treat it like the others." 

"I have not the right to." 

"You do not see that i can no longer 
endure this life, this thought which is 
wearing me out, or this question which 
I am constantly asking myself, this ques- 
tion which tortures me each time I look 
at them. It is driving me mad." 

"Then you have suffered a great 
deal?" she said. 

"Terribly. Should I, without that, 
have accepted the horror of li^dng by 
your side, and the still greater horror of 
feeling and knowing that there is one 
among them whom I cannot recognize, 
and who prevents me from loving the 
others?" 



She repeated: "Then you have really 
suffered very much?" And he replied in 
a constrained and sorrowful voice: 

"Yes, for do I rot tell you every day 
that it is intolerable torture to me? 
Should I have remained in that house, 
near you and them, if I did not love 
them Oh! You have behaved abomi- 
nably toward me. All the affection of 
my heart I have bestowed upcn my 
children, and that you know. I am for 
them a father of the olden time, as I 
was for you a husDand of one of the 
families of old, for by instinct I have 
remained a natural man, a man of for- 
mer days. Yes, I will confess it, you 
have made me terribly jealous, because 
you are a woman of another race, of 
another soul, with other requirements. 
Oh! I shall never forget the things that 
you told me, but from that day, 1 
troubled myself no more about you. I 
did not kill you, because then I should 
have had no means on earth of ever dis- 
covering which of our — of your children 
is not mine. I have waited, but I have 
suffered more than you wo^ild believe, 
for I can no longer venture to love them, 
except, perhaps, the two eldest; I no 
longer venture to look at them, to call 
them to me, to kiss them; I cannot 
take them on to my knee without asking 
myself: 'Can it be this one?' I have 
been correct in my behavior toward you 
for six years, and even kind and com- 
plaisant; tell me the truth, and I swear 
that I will do nothing unkind." 

He thought, in spite of the darkness 
of the carriage, that he could perceive 
that she was moved, and feeling certain 
that she was going to speak at last, he 
said: "I beg you, I beseech you to tell 
me." 



120 



WORKS OF GUY DE TvIAUPASSANT 



"I have been more guilty than you 
think perhaps," she replied; "but I 
could no longer endure that life of con- 
tinual pregnancy, and I had only one 
means of driving you from my bed. I 
lied before God, and I lied, with my 
hand raised to my children's heads, for 
I have never wronged you." 

He seized her arm in the darkness, 
and squeezing it as he had done on that 
terrible day of their drive in the Bois 
de Boulogne, he stammered: "Is that 
true?" 

"It is true." 

But he in terrible grief said with a 
groan: "I shall have fresh doubts that 
will never end ! When did you lie, the last 
time or .low? How am I to believe you 
at present? How can one believe a 
woman after that? I shall never again 
know what I am to think. I would 
rather you had said to me: 'It is 
Jacques, or, it is Jeanne.' " 

The carriage drove them into the 
courtyard of their mansion, and when 
it had drawn up in front of the steps, 
the Count got down first as usual, and 
offered his wife his arm, to help her up. 
And then, as soon as they had reached 
the first floor he said: "May I speak 
to you for a few moments longer?" 

And she replied: "I am quite will- 
ing." 

They went into a small drawing-room, 
while a footman in some surprise, lit 
the wax candles. As soon as he had left 
the room and they were alone, he con- 
tinued: "How am I to know the truth? 
I have begged you a thousand times to 
speak, but you have remained dumb, 
impenetrable, inflexible, inexorable, and 
now to-day, you tell roe that you have 
been lying. For six years you have 



actually allowed me to believe such a 
thing! No, you are lying now, I do 
not know why, but out of pity for me, 
perhaps?" 

She replied in a sincere and convinc- 
ing manner: "If I had net done so, I 
should have had four more children in 
the last six years!" 

And he exclaimed: "Can a mother 
speak like that?" 

"Oh!" she replied, "I do not at all 
feel that I am the mother of children 
who have never been born, it is enough 
for me to be the mother of those that 
I have, and to love them with all my 
heart. I am — we are — women who be- 
long to the civilized world, Monsieur, 
and we are no longer, and we refuse to 
be, mere females who restock the earth." 

She got up, but he seized her hands. 
"Only one word, Gabrielle. Tell me 
the truth!" 

"I have just told you. I have nsver 
dishonored you." 

He looked her full in the face, and 
how beautiful she was, with her gray 
eyes, like the cold sky. In her dark 
hair dress, on that opaque night of black 
hair, there shone the diamond coronet, 
like a cluster of stars. Then he sud- 
denly felt, felt by a kind of intuition, 
that this grand creature was not merely 
a being destined to perpetuate his race, 
but the strange and mysterious product 
of all the complicated desires which 
have been accumulating in us for cen- 
turies but which have been turned aside 
from their primitive and divine object, 
and which have wandered after a mys- 
tic, imperfectly seen, and intangible 
beauty. There are some women like 
that, women who blossom only for our 
dreams, adorned with every poetical at* 



AN AFFAIR OF STATE 



I2l 



tribute of civilization, with that ideal 
luxury, coquetry, and aesthetic charm 
which should surround the living statue 
who brightens our life. 

Her husband remained standing be- 
fore her, stupefied at the tardy and ob- 
scure discovery, confusedly hitting on 
the cause of his former jealousy, and 
understanding it all . very imperfectly. 
At last he said: "I believe you, for I 
feel at this moment that you are not 



lying, and formerly, I really thought 
that you were." 

She put out her hand to him: "We 
are friends then?" 

He took her hand and kissed it, and 
replied: "We are friends. Thank you, 
Gabrielle." 

Then he went out, still looking at her, 
and surprised that she was still so beauti- 
ful, and feeling a strange emotion arising 
in h:m, which was, perhaps, more for- 
midnble than antique and simple love. 



An Affair of State 



Paris had just heard of the disaster 
of Sedan. The Republic was proclaimed. 
All France was panting from a mad- 
ness that lasted until the time of the 
Commonwealth. Everybody was play- 
ing at soldier from one end of the coun- 
try to the other. 

Capmakers became colonels, assum- 
ing the duties of generals; revolvers 
and daggers were displayed on largo 
rotund bodies, enveloped in red sashes; 
common citizens turned warriors, com- 
manding battalions of noisy volunteers, 
and swearing like troopers to emphasize 
their importance. 

The very fact of bearing arms and 
handling guns with a system excited a 
people who hitherto had only handled 
scales and measuics, and made them 
formidable to the first comer, without 
reason. They even executed a few in- 
nocent people to prove that they knew 
how to kill; and, in roaming through 
virgin fields still belonging to the Prus- 
sians, tbev shot stray dogs, cows chew- 



ing the cud in peace, or sick horses pur 
out to pasture. Each believed himself 
called upon to play a great role in 
military affairs. The cajes of the 
smallest villages, full of tradesmen in 
uniform, resembled barracks oi field 
hospitals. 

Now, the town of Canneville did not 
yet know the exciting news of the army 
and the Capital. It had, however, 
been greatly agitated for a month over 
an encounter between the rival political 
parties. The mayor. Viscount de Var- 
netot, a small, thin man, already old, 
remained true to the Empire, especially 
since he saw rising up against him a 
powerful adversary, in the great, san- 
guine form of Doctor Massarel, head of 
the Republican party in the district, 
venerable chief of the Masonic lodge, 
president of the Society of Agriculture 
and the Fire Department, and organizer 
of the rural militia designed to save the 
country. 

In two weeks he had induced sixty- 



122 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



three men to volunteer in defense of 
their country — married men, fathers of 
families, prudent farmers and merchants 
of the town. These he drilled every 
morning in front of the mayor's window. 

Whenever the mayor happened to ap- 
pear, Commander Massarel, covered 
with pistols, passing proudly up and 
down in front of his troops, would make 
them shout, "Long live our country 1" 
And this, they noticed, disturbed the lit- 
tle viscount, who no doubt heard in it 
menace and defiance, and perhaps some 
odious recollection fjf the great Revolu- 
tion. 

On the morning of the fifth of Sep- 
tember, in uniform, his revolver on the 
table, the doctor gave consultation to an 
old peasant couple. The husband had 
suffered with a varicose vein for seven 
years, but had waited until his wife had 
one too, so that they might go and hunt 
up a physician together, guided by the 
postman when he should come with the 
newspaper. 

Dr. Massarel opened the door, grew 
pale, straightened himself abruptly and, 
raising his arms to heaven in a gesture 
of exaltation, cried out with all his 
might, in the face of the amazed rustics: 

"Long live the Republic! Long live 
the Republic! Long live the Republic!" 

Then he dropped into his armchair 
weak with emotion. 

When the peasant explained that this 
sickness commenced with a feeling as 
if ants were running up and down in 
his legs, the doctor exclaimed: "Hold 
your peace. I have spent too much 
time with you stupid people. The Re- 
public is proclaimed ! The Emperor is a 
iprisoner! France is saved! Long live 
the ReDublir'" And ninnin^ to the. 



door, he bellowed: "Celeste! Quick! 
Celeste!" 

The frightened maid hastened in. He 
stuttered, so rapidly did he try to speak: 
'My boots, my sabei — my cartridge 
box — and — the Spanish dagger, which is 
on my night table. Hurry now!" 

The obstinate peasant, takmg ad- 
vantage of the moment's silence, be- 
gan again: "This seemed like some 
cysts that hurt me when I walked.'* 

The exasperated physician shouted: 
"Hold your peace! For Heaven's sake! 
If you had washed your feet oftener, it 
would not have happened." Then, 
seizing him by the neck, he hissed in 
his face: "Can you not comprehend 
that we are living in a Republic, 
stupid?" 

But professional sentiment calmt-.' 
him suddenly, and he let the astonished 
old couple out of the house, repeating 
all the time: 

"Return to-morrov/, return to-morrow, 
my friends; I have no more time to- 
day." 

While equipping himself from head 
to foot, he gave another series of ur- 
gent orders to the maid: 

"Run to Lieutenant Picard's and to 
Sub-lieutenant Pommel's and say to 
them that I want them here immedi- 
ately. Send Torcheboeuf to me, too. 
with his drum. Quick, now! Quick!" 
And when Celeste was gone, he collected 
his thoughts and prepared to surmount 
the difficulties of the situation. 

The three men arrived together. They 
were in their working clothes. The 
Commander, who had expected to see 
them in uniform, had a fit of surprise. 

"You knov/ nothing, then? The Em. 
oeror has been taken orison er. A Re* 



AN AFFAIR OF STATE 



125 



public is proclaimed. My position is 
delicate, not to say perilous." 

He reflected for some minutes before 
the astonished faces of his subordinates 
and then continued: 

"It is necessary to act, not to hesi- 
tate. Minutes now are worth hours at 
other times. Everything depends upon 
promptness of decision. You, Picard, 
go and find the curate and get him to 
ring the bell to bring the people together, 
while I £et ahead of them. You, 
Torcheboeuf, beat the call to assemble 
the milit'a in arms, in the square, from 
even as far as the hamlets of Gerisaie 
and Salmare. You, Pommel, put on 
your uniform at once, that is, the jacket 
and cap. We, together, are going to 
take possession of the mairie and sum- 
mon M. de Varnetot to transfer his 
authority to me. Do you understand?" 

"Yes." 

"Act, then, and promptly. I will ac- 
company you to your house, Pommel, 
aince we are to work together." 

Five minutes later, the Commander 
and his subaltern, armed to the teeth, 
appeared in the square, just at the mo- 
ment when the little Viscount de Var- 
netot, with hunting gaiters on and his 
rifle on his shoulder, appeared by 
another street, walking rapidly and fol- 
lowed by three guards in green jackets, 
each carrying a knife at his side and a 
gun over his shoulder. 

While the doctor siopped, half stupe- 
fied, the four men entered the mayor's 
house and the door closed behind them. 

"We are forestalled," murmured the 
doctor; "it will be necessary now to wait 
for re-enforcements; nothing can be 
done for a quarter of an hour." 

Here Lieutenant Picard appeared: 



"The curate refuses to obey," said he; 
"he has even shut himself up in the 
church with the beadle and the porter." 

On the other side of the square, op- 
posite the white, closed front of the 
mairie, the church, mute and black, 
showed its great oak door with the 
wrought-iron trimmings. 

Then, as the puzzled inhabitants put 
their noses out of the windov/s, or 
came out upon the steps of their houses, 
the rolling of a drum was heard, and 
Torcheboeuf suddenly appeared, beating 
with fury the three quick strokes of the 
call to arms. Pie crossed the square with 
disciplined step, and then disappeared 
on a road leading to the country. 

The Commander drew his sword, ad- 
vanced alone to the middle distance 
between the two buildings where the 
enemy was barricaded and, wavmg hi.« 
weapon above his head, roared at the 
top of his lungs: "Long live the Re- 
public! Death to traitors!" Then he 
fell back where his oflicers were. The 
butcher, the baker, and the apothecary, 
feeling a little uncertain, put up their 
shutters and closed their shops. The 
grocery alone remained open. 

Meanwhile the men of the militia 
were arriving, little by little, variously 
clothed, but all wearing caps, the cap 
constituting the whole uniform of the 
corps. They were armed with their 
old, rusty guns, guns that had hung on 
chimney-pieces in kitchens for thirty 
years, and looked quite like a detach- 
ment of country soldiers. 

When there were about thirty around 
him, the Commander explained in a few 
words, the state of affairs. Then, turn- 
ing toward his major, he said: "Now, 
we must act." 



124 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



While the inhabitants collected, talked 
over and discussed the matter, the doc- 
tor quickly formed his plan of cam- 
paign : 

"Lieutenant Picard, you advance to 
the windows of the mayor's house and 
order M. de Varnetot to turn over the 
townhall to me, in the name of the 
Republic." 

But the lieutenant was a master- 
mason and refused. 

"You are a scamp, you are. Trying 
to make a target of me! Those fel- 
lows in there are good shots, you know 
that. No, thanks! Execute your com- 
missions yourself!" 

The Commander turned red: "I or- 
der you to go in the name of discipline," 
said he. 

"I am not spoiling my features with- 
out knowing why," the lieutenant re- 
turned. 

Men of influence, in a group near by, 
were heard laughing. One of them 
called out: "You are right, Picard, it 
is not the proper time.*' The doctor, 
under his breath, muttered : "Cowards I" 
And, placing his sword and his revolver 
in the hands of a soldier, he advanced 
with measured step, his eye fixed on the 
windows, as if he expected to see a gun 
or a cannon pointed at him. 

When he was within a few steps of 
the building the doors at the two ex- 
tremities, affording an entrance to two 
schools, opened, and a flood of little 
creatures, boys on one side, girls on the 
other, poured out and began playing 
in the open space, chattering around 
the doctor like a flock of birds. He 
scarcely knew what to make of it. 

As soon as the last were out, the 
doors closed. The greater part of the 



little monkeys finally scattered, ana 
then the Commander called out in a 
loud voice: 

"Monsieur de Varnetot?" A window 
in the first story opened and M. de 
Varnetot appeared. 

The Commander began: "Monsieur, 
you are aware of the great events which 
have changed the system of Govern- 
ment. The party you represent no 
longer exists. The side I represent now 
comer, into power. Under these sad, but 
decisive circumstances, I come to de- 
mand you, in the name of the Republic, 
to put in my hand the authority vested 
in you by the out-going power." 

M. de Varnetot replied: "Doctor 
Massarel, I am mayor of Canneville, so 
placed by the proper authorities, and 
mayor of Canneville I shall remain un- 
til the title is re^'oked and replaced by 
an order from my superiors. As mayor, 
I am at home in the mairie, and there I 
shall stay. Furthermore, just try to 
put me out." And he closed the 
window. 

The Commander returned to his 
troops. But, before explaining anything, 
measuring Lieutenant Picard from head 
to foot, he said: 

"You are a numskull, you are, — a 
goose, the disgrace of the army. I shall 
degrade you." 

The Lieutenant replied: "I'll attend 
to that myself." And he went over to 
a group of muttering civilians. 

Then the doctor hesitated. Whai 
should he do? Make an assault? Would 
his men obey him? And then, was he 
surely in the right? An idea burst 
upon him. He ran to the telegraph of- 
fice, on the other side of the square, 
and hurriedly sent three dispatches: 



AN AFFAIR OF STATE 



125 



•*To the Members of the Republican 
Government, at Paris"; "To the New 
Repubhcan Prefect of the Lower Seine, 
at Rouen"; "To the New Republican 
Sub-Prefect of Dieppe." 

He exposed the situation fully; told 
of the danger run by the commonwealth 
from remaining in the hands of the 
monarcbistic mayor, offered his devout 
services, asked for orders and signed his 
name, following it up with all his titles. 
Then he returned to his army corps and, 
drawing ten francs out of his pocket, 
said: 

"Now, my friends, go and eat and 
drink a little something. Only leave 
here a detachment of ten men, so that 
no one leaves the mayor's house." 

Ex-Lieutenant Picard chatting with 
the watch-maker, overheard this. With 
a sneer he remarked: "Pardon me, but 
if they go out, there will be an oppor- 
tunity for you to go in. Otherwise, I 
can't see how you are to get in there!" 

The doctor made no reply, but went 
away to luncheon. In the afternoon, he 
disposed of offices all about town, hav- 
ing the air of knowing of an impend- 
ing surprise. Many times he passed be- 
fore the doors of the mairie and of the 
church, wiihout noticing anything sus- 
Dicious; one could have believea the 
two buildings empty. 

The butcher, the baker, and the 
apothecary reopened their shops, and 
stood gossiping on the steps. If the 
Emperor had been taken prisoner, there 
must be a traitor somewhere. They 
did not feel sure of the revenue of a 
new Republic. 

Night came on. Toward nine o'clock, 
the doctor returned quietly and alone 
to the mayor's residence, persuaded 



that his adversary had retired. And, as 
he was trying to force an entrance with 
a few blows of a pickaxe, the loud 
voice of a guard demanded suddenly: 
"Who goes there?" Monsieur Massarel 
beat a retreat at the top of his speed. 

Another day dawned without any 
change in the situation. The militia 
in arms occupied the square. The in- 
habitants stood around awaiting the 
solution. People from neighboring vil* 
lages came to look on. Finally, thf 
doctor, realizing that his reputation was 
at stake, resolved to settle the thing in 
one way or another. He had just de- 
cided that it must be something ener- 
getic, when the door of the telegraph 
ofBce opened and the little servant of 
the directress appeared, holding in her 
hand two papers. 

She went directly to the Commander 
and gave him one of the dispatches; 
then, crossing the square, intimidated 
by so many eyes fixed upon her, with 
lowered head and mincing steps, she 
rapped gently at the door of the bar- 
ricaded house, as if ignorant that a part 
of the army was concealed there. 

The door opened slightly; thj hand 
of a man received the message, and the 
girl returned, blushing and ready tu 
weep, from bein§; stared at. 

The doctor demanded, with stirring 
voice: "A little silence, if you please." 
And, after the populace became quiet^ 
he continued proudly: 

"Here is a communication which I 
have received from the Government.* 
And raising the dispatch, he read: 

"Old mayor deposed. Advise vl9 
what is niost necessary. Instruction? 
later. 

"For the Sub-Prefect, 

"Sapin. Counselor" 



126 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



He had triumphed. His heart was 
beating with joy. His hand trembled, 
when Picard, his old subaltern, cried 
out to him from a neighboring group: 
'That's all right; but if the others in 
there won't go out, your paper hasn't 
a leg to stand on." The doctor grew 
a little pale. If they would not go out 
— ^in fact, he must go ahead now. It 
was not only his right, but his duty. 
And he looked anxiously at the house of 
the mayoralty, hoping that he might see 
the door open and his adversary show 
himself. But the door remained closed. 
What was to be done? The crowd was 
increasing, surrounding the militia. 
Some laughed. 

One thought, especially, tortured the 
doctor. If he should make an assault, 
he must march at the head of his men; 
and as, with him dead, all contest would 
cease, it would be at him, and at him 
alone that M. de Varnetot and the three 
guards would aim. And their aim was 
good, very good! Picard had reminded 
him of that. 

But an idea shone in upon him, and 
turning to Pommel, he said: "Go, 
quickly, and ask the apothecary to send 
me a napkin and a pole." 

The Lieutenant hurried off. The doc- 
tor was going to make a political ban- 
ner, a white one, that would perhaps, re- 
joice the heart of that old legitimist, 
the mayor. 

Pommel returned with the required 
linen and a broom handle. With some 
pieces of string, they improvised a 
standard, which Massarel seized in both 
hands. Again, he advanced toward the 
house of mayoralty, bearing the stand- 
ard before him. When in front of the 



door, he called out: "Monsieur de 

Varnetot!" 

The door opened suddenly, and M. de 
Varnetot and the three guards appeared 
on the threshold. The doctor recoiled, 
instinctively. Then, he saluted his 
enemy courteously, and announced, al- 
most strangled by emotion: 'T have 
come, sir, to communicate to you the 
instructions I have just received." 

That gentleman, without any saluta- 
tion whatever, replied: "I am going to 
withdraw, sir, but you must understand 
that it is not because of fear, or in 
obedience to an odious government that 
has usurped the power." And, biting off 
each word, he declared: "I do not wish 
to have the appearance of serving the 
Republic for a single day. That is all." 

Massarel, amazed, made no reply; 
and M. de Varnetot, walking off at a 
rapid pace, disappeared around the cor- 
ner, followed closely by his escort. Then 
the doctor, slightly dismayed, returned 
to the crowd. When be was near 
enough to be heard, he cried: "Flur- 
rah! Hurrah! The Republic triumphs 
all along the line!" 

But no emotion was manifested. The 
doctor tried again: "The people are 
free! You are free and independent! 
Do you understand? Be proud of it!" 

The listless villagers looked at him 
with eyes unlit by glory. In his tum, 
he looked at them, indignant at their 
indifference, seeking for some word 
that could make a grand impression, 
electrify this placid country and malo^ 
good his mission. The inspiration came, 
and turning to Pommel, he said: 
"Lieutenant, go and get the bust of the 
ex-Emperor, which is in the Council 
Hall, and bring it to me with a chair.** 



BABETTE 



127 



And soon the man reappears, carry- 
ing on his right shoulder, Napoleon III. 
in plaster, and holding in his left hand 
a straw-bottomed chair. 

Massarel met him, took the chair, 
placed It on the ground, put the white 
image upon it, fell back a few steps and 
called out, in sonorous voice: 

''Tyrant! Tyrant! Here do you fall! 
Fall in the dust and in the mire. An 
expiring country groans under your feet. 
Destiny has called you the Avenger. 
Defeat and shame cling to you. You 
fall conquered, a prisoner to the Prus- 
sians, and upon the ruins of the crum- 
bling Empire the young and radiant 
Republic arises, picking up your broken 
sword." 

He awaited applause. But there was 
no voice, no sound. The bewildered 
peasants remained silent. And the bust, 
with its pointed mustaches extending be- 
yond the cheeks on each side, the bust, 
so motionless and well groomed as to 
be fit for a hairdresser's sign, seemed to 
be looking at M. Massarel with a 
plaster smile, a smile ineffaceable and 
mocking. 

They remained thus face to face, 
Napoleon on the chair, the doctor in 
front of him about three steps away. 
Suddenly the Commander grew angry. 
What was to be done? What was there 
that would move this people, and bring 
about a definite victory in opinion? His 
band happened to rest on his hip and to 



come in contact there with the butt end 
of his revolver, under his red sash. No 
inspiration, no further word would come. 
But he drew his pistol, advanced two 
steps, and, taking aim, fired at the late 
monarch. The ball entered the fore- 
head, leaving a little, black hole, like a 
spot, nothing more. There was no ef- 
fect. Then he fired a second shot, which 
made a second hole, then, a third; and 
then, without stopping, he emptied his 
revolver. The brow of Napoleon dis- 
appeared in v/hite powder, but the eyes, 
/he nose, and the fine points of the 
mustaches remained intact. Then, ex- 
asperated, the doctor over-turned the 
chair with a blow of his fist and, resting 
a foot on the remainder of the bust in 
a position of triumph, he shouted: "So 
let all tyrants perish!" 

Still no enthusiasm was manifest, and 
as the spectators seemed to be in a kind 
of stupor from astonishment, the Com- 
mander called to the mihtiamen: *'You 
may now go to your homes." And he 
went toward his own house with great 
strides, as if he were pursued. 

His maid, when he appeared, told him 
that some patients had been waiting in 
his office for three hours. He hastened 
in. There were the two varicose-vein 
patients, who had returned at daybreak, 
obstinate but patient. 

The old man immediately began his 
explanation: "This began by a feeling 
like ants running up and down the legs." 



Babette 



I WAS not very fond of inspecting 
that asylum for old, infirm people offi- 
cially, as I was obliged to go over it in 



company of the superintendent, who 
was talkative and a statistician. But 
then the grandson of the foundress ac- 



128 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



companied us, and was evidently pleased 
at that minute inspection. He was a 
charming man, and the owner of a large 
forest, where he had given me permis- 
sion to shoot, and I \/as of course 
obliged to pretend to be interested in 
his grandmothers philanthropic work. 
So with a smile on my lips, I endureo 
the superintendent's interminable dis- 
course, punctuating it here and there, as 
best as J could by: 

*'Ah! really! Very strange indeed! I 
should never have believed it!" 

I was absolutely ignora^^ of the re- 
mark to which i replied thus, for my 
thoughts were lulled to repose by the 
constant humming of our loauacious 
guide. I was vaguely conscious that the 
persons and things might have appeared 
worthy of attention to me, if I had been 
there alone as an idler, for in tha*- case, 
I should certainly have asked the super- 
intendent: "What lii this Babette, 
whose name appears so constantly in the 
complaints of so many of the inmates." 

Quite a dozen men and women had 
spoken to us about her, now to complain 
of her, now to praise her; and especially 
the women, as soon as they saw the: 
superintendent, cried out: 

"M'sieur, Babette has again been — " 

"There! that will do, that will do!" 
he interrupted them, his gentle voice 
suddenly becoming harsh. 

At other times he would amicably 
question some old man with a happy 
countenance, and say: 

"Well, my friend ' I suppose you arc 
very happy here?" 

Many replied with fervent expression.*; 
of gratitude, with which Babette's name 
was frequently mingled. When he heard 
them speak so, the superintendent put 



on an ecstatic air, iooKed up to Jaeaven 
with clasped hands, and said, slowly 
shaking his head: "Ah! Babette is a 
very precious woman, very precious!" 

Yes, it would certainly interest one 
to know who that creature was, hut not 
under present circumstances, and sOj 
rather than to undergo any more of this, 
I made up my mind to remain in igno- 
rance of who Babette was, for I could 
pretty well guess what she w'/jld be like. 
I pictured her to myself as a flower 
that had sprung up in a corner of these 
dull courtyards, like a ray of sun shin- 
ing through the sepulchral gloom of 
these disma^ passages. 

I pictured her so clearly to myself, 
that I did not even feel any wish to 
know her. Yet she was dear to me, be- 
cause of the nappy expression Thicb 
they all put on when they spoke ot her, 
and I was angry with the old women 
who spoke against her. One thing, 
certainly, puzzled me, and that was, 
that the superintendent was among those 
who v,-ent into ecstasies over her, and 
this made me strongly disinclined to 
question him about her, though I had 
no other reason for the feeling. 

But aU this passed through ray mind 
in rather a confused manner, without 
my taking the trouble to fix or to for- 
mulate any ideas or explanations. I con. 
tinued to dream rather than to think 
effectively, and it is very probable that, 
when my visit was over, I should not 
have remembered much about it, not 
even with regard to Babette, if I had not 
been suddenly awakened by the sight of 
her in the flesh, and been quite upset by 
the difference that there was between my 
fancy and the reality. 

We had just crossed a small baclc 



BABETTE 



\7q 



yard, and had gone into a very dark 
passage, when a door suddenly opened 
at the other end of it, and an unexpected 
apparition appeared. We could indis- 
tinctly see that it was the figure of a 
woman. At the same moment, the su- 
perintendent called out in a furious 
voice: 

"Babette! Babette!" 

He had mechanically quickened his 
pace, and almost ran. We followed him, 
and he quickly opened the door through 
which the apparition had vanished. It 
led on to a staircase, and he again 
called out, but a burst of stifled laughter 
was the only reply. I looked over the 
balustrade, and saw a woman down be- 
low, who was looking at us fixedly. 

She was an old woman — there could 
be no doubt of that, from her wrinkled 
face, and the few straggling gray locks 
I which appeared under her cap. But one 
did not think of that vhen one saw her 
eyes, which were wonderfully youthful, 
in fact, one saw nothing but them. They 
were profound eyes, of a d?ep, almost 
violet blue; the eyes of a child. 

Suddenly the '3uperintcndent called 
out to her: "You have been with La 
Frieze again!" 

T.ie v)d wcmnn did not reply, but 
shook with laughter, as she had done 
just before; and then she ran off, giv- 
ing the super intenr lent a look, which 
said as plainly as words could have 
done: **Do you think I care a fig for 
you?" 

Those insulting words were clearly 
written in' her face, and at the same time 
I noticed that the old woman's eyes had 
utterly changed, for during that short 
moment of bravado, the childish eyes 
had become the eyes of a monkey, of 



some ferocious, obstinate baboon. 

This time, in spite of my dislike to 
question him further, I could not help 
saying to him: "That is Babette, I 
suppose?" 

"Yes," he replied, growing rather red, 
as if he guessed that I understood the 
old woman's insuliing looks. 

"Is she the woman who is so preci- 
ous?" I added, with a touch of irony, 
which made him grow altogether crim- 
son. 

"That is she," he said, walkmg oa 
quickly, so as to escape my further 
questions. 

But I was egged on by curiosity, and 
I made a direct appeal to our host's 
complaisance: "I should like to see 
this Frieze," I said. "Who is Frieze?** 

He turned round, and said: "Oh I 
nothing, nothing, he is not at all in* 
teresting. What is the good of seeing 
him? It is not worth whilj." 

And he ran downstairs, two steps at 
a time. He who was usually so minute^ 
and so very ca-eful to explain every- 
thing, was now in a hurry to get finished* 
and our visit was cut short. 

The next day I had to leave that part 
of the country, without hearing any- 
thing more about Babette, but I came 
back about four months later, when the 
shooting season began. I had not for- 
gotten her during that time, for nobody 
could ever forget her eyes, and so I 
v/as very glad to have as my traveling 
companion, on my three hours' diligence 
journey from the station to my friend's 
house, a man who talked to me about 
her all the time. 

He W.1S a young magistrate whom J. 
had already met, and who had much ia» 
terested me by his wit, by his close ma!V» 



130 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



ner of observing things, by his singularly 
reiined casuistry, and, above all, by the 
contrast between his professional se- 
verity and his tolerant philosophy. 

But he never appeared so attractive 
to me as he did on that day, when he 
told me the history of the mysterious 
Babette. 

He had inquired into it, and had ap- 
plied all his facilities as an examining 
magistrate to it, for, like me, his visit 
to the asylum had roused his curiosity. 
This is what he had learned and what 
he told me. 

When she was ten years old, Babette 
had been violated by her own father, 
and at thirteen had been sent to the 
house of correction for vagabondage 
and debauchery. From the time she 
was tv/enty until she was forty, she 
had been a servant in the neighborhood, 
frequently changing her situations, and 
being nearly everywhere her employer's 
mistress. She had ruined several fam- 
ilies ^vithout getting any money herself, 
and without gaining any definite posi- 
tion. A shopkeeper had committed sui- 
cide on her account, and a respectable 
young fellow had turned thief and in- 
cendiary, and had finished at the hulks. 

She had been married tv/ice, and had 
twice been left a widow, and for ten 
years, until she was fifty, she had been 
the only courtesan in the district. 

"She was very pretty, I suppose?'* 

"No, she never was that. It seems 
she was short, thin, with no bust or 
hips, at her best, I am told, and no- 
body can remember that she was pretty, 
even when she was young." 
"Then how can you explain?" 
•How?" the magistrate exclaimed. 



"Well! what about the eyes? You 
could not have looked at them?" 

"Yes, yes, you are right," I replied. 
"Those eyes explain many things, cer- 
tainly. They are the eyes of an in- 
nocent child." 

"Ah!" he exclaimed again, enthusi- 
astically, "Cleopatra, Diana of Poitiers^ 
Ninon de L'Enchlos, all the queens of 
love who were adored when they were 
growing old, must have had eyes like 
hers. A woman who has such eyes can 
never grow old. But if Babette lives 
to be a hundred, she will always be 
loved as she has been, and as she is." 

"As she is! Bah! By whom, pray?" 

"By all the old men in the asylum, 
by Jo^t; by all those who have pre- 
served a fiber that can be touched, a cor- 
ner of their heart that can be inflamed, 
or the least spark of desire left." 

"Do you think so?" 

"I am sure of it. And the superin- 
tendent loves her more than any of 
them." 

"Impossible!" 

"I v/ould stake my head on it." 

*'Well, after all it is possible, arJ 
even probable; it is even certain. I 
now remember." 

And I again saw the insulting, fero- 
cious, familiar look which she had given 
the superintendent. 

'And who is La Frieze?*^ I asked the 
magistrate suddenly. "I suppose you 
know that also?" 

"He is a retired butcher, who had 
both his legs frozen in the war of 1870, 
and of whom she is very fond. No 
doubt he is a cripple, with two wooden 
legs, but still a vigorous man enough, 
in spite of his fifty-three 3^ears. The 
loins of a Hercules, and the face of a 



BABETTE 



131 



satyr. The superintendent is quite 
jealous of him!" 

I thought the matter over again, and 
it seemed very probable to me. "Does 
she love La Frieze?^' 

"Yes, he is the chosen lover." 

When we arrived at the host'3 house a 
short time afterward, we were surprised 
to find everybody in a terrible state of 
excitement. A crime had been com- 
mitted in the asylum; the gendarmes 
were there and our host was with them, 
so we instantly joined them. La Frieze 
had murdered the superintendent, and 
they gave us the details, which were 
horrible. The former butcher had hid- 
den behind a door, and catching hold of 
the other, had rolled on to the ground 
with him and bitten him in the throat, 
tearing '^ut his carotid artery, from 
which the blood spurted into the mur- 
derer's face. 

I sav/ him, La Frieze. His fat face, 
which had b^en badly washed, was still 
blood stained; he had a low forehead, 
square jaws, pointed ears, iticking out 
from his head, and fiat nostrils, like the 
muzzle of some wild ani nal; but above 
all, I saw Babette. 

She was smiling, and r t that moment, 
her eyes had not their monkey-like and 
ferocious expression ; they were pleading 
and tender, full of the sweetest child- 
like candor. 

"You know," my host said to me in a 
low voice, "that the poor woman has 
fallen into senile imbecility, and that is 
the cause of her looks, which are strange, 



considering the terrible sight she has 

seen." 
"Do you think so?" the magistrate 

said. "You must remember that she is 

not yet sixty, and I do not think that 

it is a case of senile imbecility, but that 

she is quite conscious of the ciime that 

has been committed." 

"Then why should she smile?" 
"Because she is pleased at what she 

has done." 

"Oh! no, you are really too subtle!" 
The magistrate suddenly turned to 

Babette, and, looking at her steadily, he 

said: 

"I suppose you know what has hap- 
pened, and why this crime was com- 
mitted?" 

She left off smiling, and her pretty, 
childlike eyes became abominable mon- 
key's eyes again, and then the answer 
was suddenly to pull up her petticoats 
and to show us the lower part of her 
limbs. Yes, the magistrate had been 
quite right. That old woman had been 
a Cleopatra, a Diana, a Ninon de 
I'Enclos, and the rest of her body had 
remained like a child's even more than 
her eyes. We were thunderstruck at 
the sight. 

"Pigs! pigs!" La Frieze shouted to us, 
"you also want to have something to 
do with her!" 

And I saw that actually the magis- 
trate's face was pale and contracted, and 
that his hands and lips trembled like 
those of a man caught in the act of 
doing wrong. 



A Cock Crowed 



Madame Bertha d'Avancelles had 
up till that time resisted all the prayers 
of her despairing adorer, Baron Joseph 
de Croissard. He had pursued her ar- 
dently in Paris during the winter, and 
now he was giving fetes and shooting 
parties in her honor at his chateau at 
Carville, in Normandy. 

Monsieur d'Avancelles, her husband, 
saw nothing and knew nothing, as usual. 
It was said that he lived apart from 
his wife on account of a physical weak- 
ness for which Madame d'Avancelles 
would not pardon him. He was a short, 
stout, bald man, with short arms, legs, 
neck, nose, and very u^ly, while Ma- 
dame d'Avancelles, on the contrary, was 
a tall, da'-k, and determined young 
woman, who laughed in her husband's 
face with sonorous peals, while he called 
her openly '"Mrs. Housewife." She 
looked at the broad shoulders, strong 
build, and fair mustaches of her titled 
admirer, Baron Joseph de Croissard, 
with a certain amount of tenderness. 

She had not, however, granted him 
anything as yet. The baron was ruin- 
ing himself for her, and there was a 
constant round of feting, hunting 
parties, and new pleasures, to which 
he invited the neighboring nobility. All 
day long th-i hounds gave tongue in the 
woods, as they follov;ed the fox or the 
wild boar, and eve"y night dazzling 
fireworks mingled their burning plumes 
with the stars, while the illuminated 
windows of the drawing-room cast long 
rays of light on to the wide lawns, 
where shadows were moving to and fro. 

It was autumn, the russet-colored sea- 
son of the year, and the leaves were 
whi>'ling about on the grass like flights 



of birds. One noticetl the smell of damp 
earth in the air, of the naked earth, like 
one scents the odor of the bare skin 
when a woman's dress falls off her, after 
a ball. 

One evening, in the previous spring 
during an entertainment, Madainr 
d'Avancelles had said to Monsieur d^ 
Croissard, who was worrying her by his 
importunities: **If I do Suci'.fimb co you, 
my friend, it will not be bcfoie the fall 
of the leaf. I have too many things to 
do this summer to have any time for 
it." He had not forgotten that bold and 
amusing speech, and every day he be- 
came more pressing, every day he pushed 
his approaches nearer, — to use a military 
phrase, — and gained a hold on the heart 
of the fair, audacious woman, who 
seemed only to be resisting for form's 
sake. 

It was the day before a large wild- 
boar hunt, and in the evening Madame 
Bertha said to the baron with a laugh: 
"Baron, if you kill the brute, I shall 
have something to say to you.'* And 
so at dawn he was up and out, to try 
and discover where the solitary animal 
had its lair. He accompanied his hunts- 
men, settled the places for the relays, 
and organized everything personally to 
insure his triumph. When the horns 
gave the signal for setting out, he ap- 
peared in a closely fitting coat of scarlet 
and gold, with his waist drawn in tight, 
his chest expanded, his eyes rcdiant, and 
as fresh and strong as if he had just got 
out of bed. They set off; the wild boar 
bolted through the underwood as soon 
as he was dislodged, followed by the 
hounds in full cry, while the horses 
set off at a gallop through the narrow 



132 



A COCK CROWEI^ 



153 



lide-cuts in the forest. The carriages 
which followed the chase at a distance 
drove noiselessly along the soft roads. 

From mischief, Madame d'Avancelles 
kept the baron by her side, lagging be- 
hind at a walk in an interminably long 
and straight drive, over which four rows 
of oaks hung, so as to form almost an 
arch, while he, trembling with love and 
anxiety, listened with one ear to the 
young woman's bantering chatter, and 
with the other to the blast of the horns 
and to the cry of the hounds as they 
receded in the distance. 

"So you do net love me ai^y longer?" 
she observed. 

"How can you say such things?" he 
replied. 

And she continued: "But you seem 
to be paying more attention to the sport 
than to me," 

He groaned, and said: "Did you not 
order me to kill the animal myself?" 

And she replied gravely: "Of course 
I reckon upon it. You must kill it un- 
der my eyes." 

Then he trembled iii his saddle, 
spurred his horse until it reared and, 
losing all patience, exclaimed: "But, by 
Jove, Madame, that is impossible if we 
remain here." 

Then she spoke tenderly to him, lay- 
ing her hand on his arm, or stroking 
his horse's mane, as if from, abstraction, 
and said with a laugh: "But you must 
do it — or else, so much the worse for 
you." 

Just then they turned to the right, 
into a narrow path which was overhung 
by trees, and suddenly, to avoid a 
branch which barred their wa3', she 
leaned toward him so closely, that he 
felt her hair tickling his neck. Sud- 



denly hv threw his arms brutally round 
her, and putting his heavily mustached 
mouth to her forehead, he gave her a 
furious kiss. 

At first she did not move, and re- 
mained motionless under that mad ca- 
ress; then she turned her head with a 
jerk, and either by accident or design 
her Kttle lips met his, under their wealth 
of light hair, and a moment afterward, 
either from confusion or remorse, she 
struck her horse with her riding-whip, 
and went off at full gallop, and they rode 
on I'ke that for some time, without ex- 
changmg a look. 

The noise of the hunt came nearer, 
the thickets seemed to tremble, and 
suddenly the wild boar broke through 
the bushes, covered with blood, and 
trying to shake off the hounds who h?,d 
fastened on to him, and the baron, utter* 
ing a shout of triumph exclaimed: 
"Let him who loves me follow me!'* 
And he disappeared in the copse, as if 
the wood had swallowed him up. 

When she reached an open glade a 
few minutes later, he was just getting 
up, covered with mud, his coat torn, 
and his hands bloody, while the brute 
was lying stretched out at full length, 
with the baron's hunting-knife driven 
into its shoulder up to the hilt. 

The quarry was cut at night by torch^ 
light. It was a warm and dull evening, 
and the wan moon threw a yellow light 
on to the torches which made the night 
miity with their resinous smoke. The 
hounds devoured the wild boar's en^ 
trails, and snarled and fought for them, 
while the prickers and the gentlemen, 
standing in a circle round the spoil, 
blew their horns as loud as they could. 
The flourish of the hunting-horns re- 



134 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



sounded beyond the woods on that still 
night ana was repeated by the echoes 
of the distant valleys, awaking the timid 
stags, rousing the yelping foxes and dis- 
turbing the little rabbits in their gambols 
at the edge of the rides. 

The frightened nightbirds flew over 
the eager pack of hounds, while the 
women, who were moved by all these 
strangely picturesque things, leaned 
rather heavily on the men's arms, and 
turned aside into the forest rides, before 
the hounds had finished their meal. 
Madame d'Avancelles, feeling languid 
after that day of fatigue and tender- 
ness, said to the baron: "Will you take 
a turn in the park, my friend?" And 
without reolying, but trembling and 
nervous, he went with her, and imme- 
diately they kissed each othe^. They 
walked slowly under the almost leafless 
trees through which the moonbeams 
filtered, and their love, their desires, 
their longing for a closer embrace be- 
came so vehement, that they nearly 
yielded to it at the foot of a tree. 

The horns were not sounding any 
longer, and the tired hounds were sleep- 
ing in the kennels. "Let us return," 
the young woman said, and they went 
back. 

When they got to the chateau and be- 
fore they went in, she said in a weak 
voice: "I am so tired that I shall go 
to bed, my friend." And as he opened 
his arms for a last kiss, she ran away, 
saying as a last good-bye: "No — I am 
going to sleep. Let him who loves me 
follow me!" 

An hour later, when the whole silent 
iChateau seemed dead, the baron crept 
stealthily out of his room, and went and 
scratched at her door As she did not 



reply, he tried to open it, and found 
that it was not locked. 

She was in a reverie, resting her arrnf^ 
against the window ledge. He threw 
himself at her knees, which he kissed 
madly, through her dress. She said 
nothing, but buried her delicate fingers 
caressingly in his hair, and suddenly, as 
if she had formed some great resolution, 
whispered with a daring look: "I 
shall come back, wait for me." And 
stretching out her hand, she pointed 
with her finger to an indistinct white 
spot at the end of the room; it was her 
bed. 

Then, with trembling hands and 
scarcely knowing what he was doing, he 
quickly undressed, got into the cool 
sheets, and stretching himself out com- 
fortably, almost forgot his love in the 
pleasure he found, tired out as he was, 
in the contact of the linen. She did 
not return, however, no doubt finding 
amusement in making him languish. He 
closed his eyes with a feeling of ex- 
quisite comfort, and reflected peaceably 
while waiting for what he so ardently 
longed for. But by deg:"ees his limbs 
grew languid and his thoughts became 
indistinct and fleeting, until his fatigue 
gained the upper hand and he fell 
asleep. 

He slept that unconquerable, heavy 
sleep of the worn-out hunter, slept 
through until daylight. Then, as the 
window had remained half open, the 
crowing of a cock suddenly woke him. 
The baron opened his eyes, and feeling 
a woman's body against his — finding 
himself, much to his surprise, in a 
strange bed, and remembering nothing 
for the moment — he stammered: 



LILIE LALA 



135 



"What? Where am I? What is the 
matter?" 

Then she, who had not been asleep at 
all, looking at this unkempt man with 



haughty tone of voice in which she 
occasionally spoke to her husband . 

"It is nothing; it is only a cock crow- 
ing. Go to sleep again Monsieur, it has 



red eyes and swollen lips replied in the nothing to do with you,'*' 



Lilie Lala 



''When I saw her for the first time," 
Louis d Arandcl said, with tha look of 
a man who was dreaming and trying to 
recollect something, 'I thought of some 
slow and yet passionate music that I 
once heard, though I do not remember 
who was the composer. It told of a fair- 
haired woman, whose hair was so silky, 
so golden, and so vibrating that her 
lover had it cut off after her death, and 
had the strings of the magic bow of a 
violin made out of it, which afterward 
emitted such superhuman complaints 
and love melodies, that they made its 
hearers love until death. 

"In her eyes there lay the mystery of 
deep waters; one was lost in them, 
drowned in them like in fathomless 
depths, and at the corners of her mouth 
there lurked the despotic and merciless 
smile of those women who do not fear 
that they maj^ be conquered, who rule 
over men like cruel queens, whose hearts 
remain as virgin as those of the strictest 
Carmelite nuns, amid a flood of lewd- 
ness. 

"I have seen her angelic head, the 
bands of her hair which looked like 
plates of gold, her tall, gracefull figure, 
Ijer white, slender, childish hands, in 
stained glass windows in churches. She 
suggested pictures of the Annunciation, 



where the Archangel Gabriel descends 
with ultramarine colored wings, and 
Mary is sitting at her spinning wheel 
and spinning, while uttering pious 
prayers, seemingly a tall sister to the 
white lilies that are growing beside her 
and the roses. 

"When she went tnrough the acacia 
alley, she appeared on some first night 
in the stage box at one of the theaters, 
nearly always alone, and apparently 
feeling life a great burden, and angry 
because she could not change the eternal^ 
dull round of human enjoyment, nobody 
would have believed that she went in 
for a fast life — that in the annals of 
gallantry she was catalogued under the 
strange name of "Lilie Lala," and that 
no man could rub against her without 
being irretrievably caught, and spend* 
ing his last halfpenny on her. 

"But with all that, Lilie had the voice 
of a school-girl, of some little innocent 
creature who still uses a skipping rope 
and wears short dresses, and had that 
clear, innocent laugh which reminds peo- 
ple of wedding bells. Sometimes, for 
fun, I would kneel down before her, like 
before the statue of a saint, and clasp- 
mg my hands as if in prayer, I used to 
say: ^Sancta Lilies ora pro nobis!* 

"One evening, at Biarritz, when the 



136 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



sky had the dull glare of intense heat 
and the sea was of a sinister, inky 
black, and was swelling and rolling in 
enormous phosphorescent waves on the 
beach at Port-Vieux, Lilie, who was 
listless and strange, and was nnaking 
holes in the sand with the heels of her 
boots, suddenly exclaimed in one of 
those confidences which women some- 
times bestow, and for which they are 
sorry as soon as the story is told: 

" 'Ah ! My dear fellow, I do not de- 
serve to be canonized, and my life is 
rather a subject for a drama than a 
chapter from the Gospels or the "Golden 
legend. " As long as I can remember 
anything, I can remember being wrapped 
in lace, being carried by a woman, and 
continually being fussed over, as are 
children who have been long waited for, 
and who are consequently spoiled more 
than usual. 

" Those kisses were so nice, that I 
still seem to feel their sweetness, and I 
shrine the remembrance of them in a lit- 
tle place in my heart, as one preserves 
some lucky talisman in a reliquary. I 
still seem to remember an indistinct 
landscape lost in the mist, outlines of 
trees which frightened me as they 
creaked and groaned in the wind, and 
ponds on v/hich swans were sailing. 
And when I look in the glass for a long 
time, merely for the sake of seeing my- 
self, it seems to me as if I recognize the 
woman who formerly used to kiss me 
most frequently, and sp-'^ak to me in a 
more loving voice than anyone else did. 
But what happened afterward? 

" 'Was I carried off, or sold to some 
strolling circus owner by a dishonest 
servant? I do not know, I have never 
been able to find out: but T remember 



that my whole childhood was spent in a 
circus which traveled from fair to fair, 
and from place to place, with files of 
vans, processions of animals, and noisy 
music. 

" 'I ^N.x6 as tiny as an insect, and they 
taught me difficult tricks, to dance on 
the tight-rope and to perform on the 
slack-rope. I was beaten as if I had 
been a b^'t of plaster, and more fre- 
quently I had a piece of dry bread to 
gnaw than a slice of meat. But I re- 
member that one day I slipped under 
one of the vans, and stole a basin of 
soup as my share, which one of the 
clowns w^as carefully making for his 
three learned dogs. 

" 'I had neither friends nor relations; 
I was employed on the dirtiest jobs, like 
the lowest ^table-help, and I was tat- 
tooed with bruises and scars. Of the 
whole company, however, the one who 
beat me the most, who was the least 
sparing of his thumps, and who con- 
tinually made me suffer, as if it gave 
him pleasure, was the manager and 
proprietor, a kind of old, vicious brute, 
whom everybody feared like the plague, 
a miser who was continually complain- 
ing of the receipts, who hid away the 
crown pieces in his mattress, invested 
his money in the funds, and cut down 
the salaries of all, as far as he could. 

" 'His name was Rapha Ginestous. 
Any other child but myself would have 
succumbed to such a constant martyr- 
dom, but I grew up, and the more I 
grew, the prettier and more desirable I 
became, so that when I was fifteen, men 
were already beginning to write love 
letters to me, and to throw bouquets to 
me in the arena. I felt also that all the 
men in the company were watching me. 



LILIE LALA 



137 



and were coveting me as their prey; 
that their lustful looks rested on my 
pink tights, and followed the graceful 
outlines of my body when I was posing 
on the rope that stretched from one 
end of the circus to the other, or jumped 
through the paper hoops at full gallop. 

"They were no longer the came, and 
spoke to me in a totally different tone 
of voice. They tried to come into my 
dressing-room when I was changing my 
dress, and Rapha Ginestous seemed to 
have lost his head, and his heart 
throbbed audibly when he came near 
me. Yes, he haa vlie audacity to pro- 
pose bargains to me which covered my 
cheeks and forehead with blushes, and 
which filled me with disgust i and as I 
felt a fierce hatred for him, and detested 
him with all my soul and all my strength 
— as I wished to make him suffer the 
tortures which he had inflicted on me, a 
hundredfold, I used him as the target at 
which I was constantly aiming. 

" 'Instinctively, I employed every 
cunning perfidy, every artful coquetry, 
every lie, every artifice that can unset 
the strongest and most sceptical, and 
place them at our mercy, like submis- 
sive animals. He loved me, ho really 
loved me, that lascivious goat, who had 
never seen anything in a woman except 
a soft couch, and an instrument of con- 
venience and of forgetfulness. He loved 
ne like old men do love, with frenzy, 
with degrading transports, and with the 
prostration of his will and of his 
strength. I held him as in a leash, and 
did whatever I liked with him. 

" 'I was much more manageress than 
he was manager, and the poor wretch 
wasted away in vain hopes and in use- 
hss transports; he had not even touched 



the tips of my fingers, and wa ; reduced 
to bestowing his caresses on my colum^ 
bine shoes, my tights, and my wigs. 
And I cared not that for it, you under 
stand! Not the slightest familiarit> 
did I allow, and he began to grow thin 
and ill, and became idiotic. And while 
he implored me, and promised to marry 
me, with his eyes full of tears, I shouted 
with laughter; I remindeJ him of how 
he had beaten, abused, and humiliated 
me, aiid had often made me wish for 
death. And as soon as he left me, he 
would swill bottles of gin and whiskey, 
r.nd constantly got so abominably drunk 
that he rolled under the table, and all to 
drown his sorrow and forget his desire. 

" 'He covered me with jeweb, and 
tried everything he cculd tc tempt me 
to become his wife. In spite of my in- 
experience in life, he consulted me with 
regard to everything he undertook, and 
one evening, after I had stroked his face 
with my hand, I persuaded him without 
any difficulty, to make his will, by which 
he left me all his savings, and the circus 
and everything belonging to it. 

" *It was in the middle of winter, neaj 
Moscow; it snowed continually, and 
one almost burnt oneself at the stove.^ 
in trying to keep warm. Rapha Gines 
tous had had supper brought into the 
largest van, which v;as his, after tht 
performance, and for hours we ate and 
drank. I was very nice toward him, and 
filled his glass every moment; I even 
sat on his knee and kissed him. And 
all his love, and the fumes of the al- 
cohol of the wine, mounted to his head 
and gradually made him so helplessly 
intoxicated, that he fell from his chai: 
inert, as if h^ had been struck by lig^ht 



us 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



ning, without opening his eyes or saying 
a word. 

" 'The rest of the troupe were asleep, 
the hghts were out in all the little win- 
dows, and not a sound was to be heard, 
whib the snow continued to fall in large 
flakes. So having put out the petroleum 
lanrp, I opened the door, and taking 
the drunkard by the feet, as if he had 
been a bale of goods, I threw him out 
into that white shroud. 

" The next morning the stiff and con- 
vulsed body of Rapha Ginestous was 
picked up, and as everybody knew his 



inveterate drinking habits, no one 
thought of instituting an inquiry, or ot 
accusing me of a crime. Thus was I 
avenged, and gained a yearly income or 
nearly fifteen thousand francs.* What, 
after all, is the good of being honest, 
and of pardoning our enemies, as the 
Gospel bids us?' 

"And now," Louis d'Arandel said in 
conclusion, "suppose we go and have a 
cocktail or two at the Casino, for I do 
not think that I have ever talked so 
much in my life before." 



*About $3000. 



A Vagabond 



For more than a month Randel had 
been walking, seeking for work every- 
where. He had left his native place, 
Ville-Avary, in the department of La 
Manche, because there was no work to 
be had. He was a journeyman carpen- 
ter, twenty-seven years old, a steady 
fellow and good workman, but for two 
moniiis, he, the eldest son, had been 
obliged to live on his family, with 
nothing to do but loaf in the general 
stoppage of work. Bread was getting 
acarce with them; the tv/o sisters went 
DUt as charwomen, but earned little, 
md he, Jacques Randel, the strongest 
of them all, did nothing because he had 
nothing to do, and ate the others' bread. 

Then he went and inquired at the 
town-hall, and the mayor's secretary told 
him that he would find work at the 
Labor-Center. So he started, well pro- 
vided with papers and certificates, and 
carrying another pair of shoes, a pair of 



LFousers, and a shirt in a blue handker- 
chief at the end of his stick. 

He had v/aiked almost v/ithout stop- 
ping, day and night, along interminable 
roads, in the sun and rain, without ever 
reaching that mysterious rountry where 
workm.en find work. At first he had the 
i"'?.ed idea that he must only work at his 
own trade, but at every carpenter's shop 
where he applied he was told that they 
had just dismissed men on account of 
work being so slack, and finding himself 
at the end of his resources, he made up 
his mind to undertake any job that he 
might come across on the road. And 
so by turns he was a navvy, stableman, 
stone-sawyer; he split wood, lopped the 
branches of trees, dug wells, mixed mor- 
tar, tied up faggots, tended goats on a 
mountain, and all for a few pence, for 
he only obtained two or three days* 
work occasionally, by offering himseif at 
a shamefully low price, in order to 



A VAGABOND 



139 



tempt the avarice of employers and 
peasants. 

And now for a week he had found 
nothing and he had no money left. He 
was eating a piece of bread, thanks to 
the charity of some women from whom 
he had begged at house-doors, on the 
road. It was getting dark, and Jacques 
Randel, jaded, his legs failing him, his 
stomach empty, and with despair in his 
heart, was walking barefoot on the grass 
by the side of the road, for he was tak- 
ing care of his last pair of shoes, the 
other pair having already ceased to 
exist for a long time. It was a Satur- 
day, toward the end of autumn. The 
heavy gray clouds were being driven 
rapidly among the trees, and one felt 
that it would rain soon. The country 
was deserted at that time of the evening, 
and on the eve of Sunday. Here and 
there in the fields there rose up stacks 
of thrashed-out corn, like huge yellov; 
mushrooms, and the fields looked bare, 
as they had already been sown for the 
next year. 

Randel was hungry, with the hunger 
of some wild animal, such a hunger as 
drives wolves to attack men. Worn out 
and weakened with fatigue, he took 
longer strides, so as not to take so many 
steps, and with heavy head, the blood 
throbbing in his temples, with red eyes 
and dry mouth, he grasped his stick 
tightly in his hand, with a longing to 
strike the first passer-by whom he should 
meet, and who might be going home to 
supper, with all his force. 

He looked at the sides of the road, 
with the image of potatoes dug up and 
lying on the ground, before his eyes; 
if he had found any, he would have 
gathered some dead wood, made a fire 



in the ditch, and have had a capital sup- 
per off the warm, round tubers, which 
he would first of all have held burn- 
ing hot in his cold hands. But it was 
too late in the year and he would have 
to gnaw a raw beet-root, as he had done 
the day before, having picked one up in 
a field. 

For the last two days he had spoken 
aloud as he quickened his steps, under 
the influence of his thoughts. He had 
never done much thinking, hitherto, as 
he had given all his mind, all his simple 
faculties, to his industrial requirements 
But now fatigue, and this desperate 
search for work which he could not get, 
refusals and rebuffs, nights spent in the 
open air lying on the grass, long fasting, 
the contempt wh ch he knew people with 
a settled abode felt for a vagabond, the 
question which he was continually 
asked: "Why did you not remain at 
home?" distress at not being able to use 
his strong arms which he felt so full of 
vigor, the recollection of his relations 
who had remained at home and who 
also had not a half-penny, filled him by 
degrees with a rage which was accumu- 
lating every day, every hour, every min- 
ute, and which now escaped his lips in 
spite of himself in short, growling sen- 
tences. 

As he stumbled over the stones which 
rolled beneath his bare feet, he grum- 
bled: "How wretched! how miserable! 
A set of hogs, to let a man die of hun- 
ger, a carpenter. A set of hogs — not 
twopence — not twopence. And now it 
is raining — a set of hogs!" 

He was indignant at the injustice of 
fate, and cast the blame on men, on all 
men, because Nature, tliat great, blind 
mother, is unjust, cruel and perfidious, 



140 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



and he repeated through his clenched 
teeth, *'A set of hogs," as he looked at 
the thin gray smoke which rose from 
i.he roofs, for it was the dinner hour. 
And without thinking about that other 
injustice, which is human, and which is 
called robbery and violence, he felt in- 
clined to Ro into one of those houses to 
murder the inhabitants., and to sit down 
to table, in their stead. 

He said to himself: "I have a right 
to live, and they are letting me die of 
hunger — and yet I only ask for work — 
a set of hogs!" And the pain In his 
limbs, the gnawing in his heart, rose 
to his head like terrible intoxication, 
and gave rise to this simple thought in 
his brain: '1 have the right to live 
because I breathe, and because the aii 
is the common property of everybody, 
and so nobody has the right to leave 
me without bread!" 

A thick, fine, icy cold rain was com- 
ing down, and he stopped and mur- 
mured: "How miserable! another 
month of walking before I get home." 
He was indeed returning home then; 
for he saw that he should more easily 
find work in his native town wheve he 
was known — and he did not mind what 
he did — than on the highroads, where 
everybody suspected him. As the car- 
pentering business was not going well 
he would turn day-laborer, be a ma- 
son's hodman, ditcher, break stones on 
the road. If he only earned tenpence 
a day, that would at any rate find him 
something to eat. 

He tied the remains of his last pocket 
handkerchief round his neck to pre- 
vent the cold water from running down 
his back and chest; but he scon found 
that it was penetrating the thin material 



of which his clothes were made, and he 
glanced round him with the agonized 
look of a man who does not know where 
to hide his body and to rest his head, 
aiid has no place of shelter in che whole 
world. 

Night came on and wrapped the coun- 
try in obscurity, and in the distance, in 
a meadow, he saw a dark spot on the 
grass; it was a cow, and so he got over 
the ditch by the roadside and went up 
to her, without exactly knowing what 
he was doing. When he got close to 
her, she raised her great head to him, 
and he thought: *'If I only had 'a jug, 
I could get a little milk." He looked 
at the cow, and the cow looked at him, 
and then suddenly giving her a violent 
kick in the side, he said: "Get up!" 

The animal got up slowly, letting her 
heavy udder hang down below her; then 
the man lay down on his back between 
the animal's legs, and drank for a long 
time, squeezing the warm swollen teats 
which tasted of the cow-stall, with both 
hands, and drank as long as any milk 
remained in that living well. But the 
icy rain began to fall more heavily, and 
he saw no place of shelter on the whole 
of that bare plain. He was cold, and 
he looked at a light which was shining 
among the trees, in the window of a 
house. 

The cow had Iain down again, heavily, 
and he sat down by her side and stroked 
her head, grateful for the nourishment 
she had give him. The animal's strong, 
thick breath, which came out of her 
nostrils like two jets of steam in the eve- 
ning air, blew on to the workman's face, 
who said: "You are not cold, inside 
there!" He put his hands on to her 
chest and under her legs, to find some 



A VAGABOND 



14i 



warmth there, and then the idea struck 
him that he might pass the night against 
that large, warm stomach. So he found 
a comfortable place and laid his fore- 
head against the great udder from which 
he had quenched his thirst just previ- 
ously, and then, as he wa? worn out with 
fatigue, he fell asleep immediately. 

He w^oke up, how-ever, several times, 
with his back or his stomach half frozen, 
according as he put one or the other to 
the animals flank. Then he turned over 
to warm and dry that part of his body 
which had remained exposed to the night 
air, and he soon went soundly to sleep 
again. 

The crowing of a cock woke him; the 
day was bredising, it was no longer rain- 
ing and the sky was bright. Ihe co.v 
was resting with her muzzle on the 
ground, and he stooped down, resting on 
his hands, to kiss those wide nostrils cf 
moist flesh, and said: *' Good-bye, my 
beauty, until next time. You are a 
niceanimall Good-bye." Then he put 
on his shoes and went off, and for two 
hours he walked straight on before him, 
always following the same road, anl 
then he felt so tirel that he sat down on 
the grass. It was broad daylight by 
that time, and the church bells were 
rlnoring; men in blue blouses, women in 
white caps, some on foot, some in carts, 
began to pass along the road, going to 
the neighboring villages to spend Sun- 
day with friends or relations. 

A stout peasant came in sight, driving 
a score of frightened, bleating sheep in 
front of him, whom an active dog kept 
together, so Randel got up and raising 
his cap, he said: "You do not happen 
to have any work for a man who is 
dying of hunger?" But the other, giv- 



ing an angry look at the vagabond, re- 
plied: "1 have no work for fellows 
whom I meet on the road." 

And the carpenter went back and sat 
down by the side of the ditch again. 
He waited there for a long time, watch- 
ing the country people pass, and look- 
ing for a kind, compassionate face be- 
fore he renewed his request, and finally 
selected a man in an overcoat, whose 
stomach was adorned with a gold chain. 
"1 have been looking for work," he 
said, *'for the last two months and can- 
not find any, and I have not a half- 
penny in my pocket." 

But the semi-gentleman replied: 
"You should have read the notice which 
Is stuck up at the beginning of the vil- 
laoC- 'Begging is prohibited within 
the boundaries of this parish.' Let me 
tell you that I am the mayor, and if you 
do not get out of here pretty quickly, 
I shall have you arrested." 

Randel, who was getting angry, re- 
plied: "Have me arrested if you like; 
1 should prefer it, for at any rate I 
should r>-ct die of hunger." And he 
went back and sat down by the side of 
his ditch again, and in about a quarter 
of an hour two gendarmes appeared on 
the road. They were walking slowly, 
side by side, well in sight, glittering in 
the sun with their shining hats, their 
yellow accouterments and their metal 
buttons, as if to frighten evildoers, and 
to put them to flight at a distance. He 
knew that they were coming after him, 
but he did not move, for he was seized 
with a sudden desire to defy them, to 
be arrested by them, and to have his 
revenge later. 

They came on without appearing to 
have seen him, walking with military 



142 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



steps, heavily, and balancing themselves 
as if they were doing the goose-step; 
and then suddenly as they passed him, 
they noticed him and stopped, looking 
at him angrily and threateningly. The 
brigadier came up to him and asked: 
"What are you doing here?" 

"I am resting," the man replied, 
calmly. 

"Where do you come from?" 

"If I had to tell you all the places I 
have been to, it would take me more 
than an hour." 

"Where are you going to?" 

"To Ville-Avary." 

"Where is that?" 

"In La Manche." 

"Is that where you belong to?" 



, " 



"It is 

"Why did you leave it?" 

"To try for work." 

The brigadier turned to his gendarme, 
and said, in the angry voice of a man 
who is exasperated at last by the same 
trick: "They all say that, these scamps. 
I know all about it." And then he con- 
tinued: "Have you any papers?" 

"Yes, I have some." 

"Give them to me." 

Randal took his papers out of his 
pocket, his certificates, those poor, worn- 
out, dirty papers which were falling to 
pieces, and gave them to the soldier, 
who spelled them through, hemming and 
hawing and then having seen that they 
were all in order, he gave them back to 
Randel with the dissatisfied look of a 
man whom some one cleverer than him- 
self has tricked. 

After a few moments further reflec- 
tion, he asked him: "Have you any 
money on you?" 

"No." 



"None whatever?" 
"None." 

"Not even a sou?" 
"Not even a sou!" 
"How do you live then?" 
"On what people give me." 
"Then you beg?" 

And Randel answered resolutely,' 
"Yes, when I can." 

Then the gendarme said: "I have 
caught you on the highroad in the act 
of vagabondage and begging, without 
any resources or trade, and so I com* 
mand you to come with me." 

The carpenter got up and said: 
"Wherever you please." And placing 
himself between the two soldiers, even 
before he had received the order to do 
so, he added: "Come, lock me up: 
that will at any rate put a roof over 
my head when it rains." 

And they set off toward the village, 
whose red tiles could be seen through 
the leafless trees, a quarter of a league 
off. Service was just going to begin 
when they went through the village. 
The square was full of people, who im- 
mediately formed two hedges to see the 
crimind, who was being followed by a 
crowd of excited children, pass. Male 
and female peasants looked at the pris- 
oner between the two gendarmes, with 
hatred in their eyes, and a longing to 
throw stones at him, to tear his skin 
with their nails, to trample h*m under 
their feet. They asked each other 
whether he had committed murder or 
robbery. The butcher, who was an ex- 
Spahi declared that he was a deserter. 
The tobacconist thought that he rec- 
ognized him as the man who had that 
very morning passed a b3d half -franc 
piece off on him, and the ironmonger 



I 



A VAGABOND 



143 



¥ 



declared that he was the murderer of 
widow Malet, for whom the police had 
been looking, for six months. 

In the hall of the municipal council, 
into which his custodians took him, 
Randel saw the mayor again, sitting on 
the magisterial bench, with the school- 
master by his side. 

''Ah! ah!" the magistrate exclaimed, 
"so here you are again, my fellow. I 
told you I should have you locked up. 
Well, brigadier, what is he charged 
with?" 

*'He is a vagabond without house or 
home. Monsieur le Maire, without any 
resources or money, so he says, who was 
arrested in the act of begging, but he is 
provided with good testimonials, and his 
papers are all in order." 

"Show me his papers," the mayor said. 
He took them, read them, re-read, re- 
turned them, and then said: "Search 
him"; they searched him, but found 
nothing, and the mayor seemed per- 
plexed, and asked the workman; 

"What were you doing on the road 
this morning?" 

"I was looking for work." 

"Work? On the highroad?" 

"How do you expect me to find any 
if I hide in the woods?" 

They looked at each other, with the 
hatred of two wild beasts which belong 
to different, hostile species, and the 
magistrate continued: "I am going to 
have you set at liberty, but do not be 
brought up before me again." 

To which the carpenter replied: "I 
would rather you locked me up; I have 
had enough running about the country." 

But the mae^istrate replied severely: 
"Be silent." And then he said to the 
two gendarmes: "You will conduct this 



man two hundred yards from the village, 
and let him continue his journey." 

"At any rate, give me something to 
eat," the workman said; but the other 
grew indignant: "It only remains for 
us to feed you! Ah! ah! ah! that is 
rather strong!" 

But Randel went on, firmly: "If you 
let me nearly die of hunger again, you 
will force me to commit a crime, and 
then, so much the worse for you other 
fat fellows." 

The mayor had risen, and he re- 
peated: "Take him away immediately, 
or I shall end by getting angry." 

The two gendarmes thereupon seized 
the carpenter by the arms and dragged 
him out. He allowed them to do it 
without resistance, passed through the 
village again, and found himself on the 
highroad once more; and when the men 
had accompanied him two hundred 
yards beyond the village, the brigadiei 
said: "Now off with you, and do not 
let me catch you about here again, for 
if I do, you will know it." 

Randel went off without replying, or 
knowing where he was going. He 
walked on for a quarter of an hour or 
twenty minutes, so stupefied that he no 
longer thought of anything. But sud* 
denly, as he v/as passing a small house, 
where the window was half open, the 
smell of the soup and boiled meat 
stopped him suddenly in front of it, 
and hunger, fierce, devouring, madden- 
ing hunger seized him, and almost drove 
him against the walls of the house, like 
u wild beast. 

He said aloud, in a grumbling voice: 
"In Heaven's name they must give me 
some, this time." And he bes:an to 
knock af the door vigorously with his 



144 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



stick, and as nobody came he knocked 
louder and called out: "Hallo! you 
people in there, open the door!" And 
then, as nothing moved, he went up to 
the window, and pushed it open with his 
hand, and the close warm air of the 
kitchen, full of smell of hot soup, meat, 
and cabbage escaped into the cold, outer 
air, and with a bound the carpenter 
was in the house. Two co\^ers were laid 
on the table; no doubt the proprietors 
of the house, on goirg to church, had 
left their dinner on the fire, their nice, 
Sunday boiled beef and vegetable soup, 
while there was a loaf of new bread on 
the chimney-piece, between two bottles 
which seemed full. 

Randcl seized the bread first of all, 
and broke it with as m'ach violence as 
if he were strangling a man, and then 
he began to eat it voraciously, swaUow- 
ing great mouthfuls quickly. But al- 
most immediately the smell of the meat 
attracted him to the fireplace, and hav- 
ing taken off the lid of the sauce-pan, he 
plunged a fork into it and brough out a 
large piece of beef, tied with a string. 
Then he tock more cabbage, carrots, 
and onions until his plate was full, and 
having put it on the table, he sat down 
before it, cut the meat into four pieces, 
and dined as if he had been at home. 
When he had eaten nearly all the meat, 
besides a quantity of vegetables, he felt 
thirsty, and took one of the bottles off 
the mantelpiece. 

Scarcely had he poured the liquor into 
his glass than he saw it was brandv. 
So much the better; it was warmin?: it 
would instill some fire into his veins, 
and that would be all right, after be- 
ing so cold; and he drank some. He 
found it very good, certainly, fot he 



had grown unaccustomed to it, and he 
poured himself out another glassful, 
which he drank at two gulps. And then^ 
almost immediately he felt quite merry 
and light-hearted from the effect of the 
alcohol, just as if some great happiness 
were flowing through his system. 

He continued to eat, but more slowly, 
dipping his bread into the soup. His 
skin had become burning, and especially 
his forehead, where the veins were 
throbbing. But suddenly the church 
bells began to ring. Mass was over, 
and instinct rather than fear, the in- 
stinct of prudence which guides all be- 
ings, and makes them clear-sighted in 
danger, made the carpenter get up. He 
put the remains of the loaf into one 
I^ocket, and the brandy bottle into the 
other, and he furtively went to the win- 
dow and looked out i::to the road. It 
was still deserted, so he jumped out and 
set off walking again, but instead of 
following the highroad, he ran across 
the fields toward a wood which he saw a 
little way off. 

He felt alert, strong, light-hearted, 
glad of what he had done, and so nim- 
ble that he sprang over the inclosures 
of the fields, at a single bound, and as 
soon as he was under the trees, he took 
the bottle out of his pocket again, and 
began to drink once more, swallowing 
it down as he walked, and then his ideas 
began to get confused, his eyes grew 
dim, ard his legs elastic as springs, and 
he started singing the old popular song: 

"Oh ! hov nice, how nice it i<=. 
To pick the sweet, wild strav/berries." 

He was now walking on thick, damp, 
rool moss, and the soft carpet under his 
feet made him feel absurdly inclined to 



A VAGABOND 



146 



turn head over heels, Hke he used to do 
as a child; so he took a run, turned a 
somersault, got up, and began over 
again. And between each time, he be- 
gan to sing again : 

"Oh! how nice, how nice it is, 
To pick the sweet, wild strawberries." 

Suddenly he found himself on the 
edge of a sunken road, and in the road 
he saw a tall girl, a servant who was 
returning to the village with two pails 
of milk. He watched, stooping down 
and with his eyes as bright as those of 
a dog who scents a quail, but she saw 
him, raised her head and said: "Was 
that you singing like that?" He did 
not reply, however, but jumped down 
into the road, although it was at least 
six feet down, and when she saw him 
suddenly standing in front of her, she 
exclaimed: *'0h! dear, how you fright- 
ened me!" 

But he did not hear her, for he was 
drunk, he was mad, excited by another 
requirement which was more imperative 
than hunger, more feverish than al- 
cohol; by the irresistible fury of the 
man who has been in want of everything 
tor two months, and who is drunk; who 
is young, ardent, and inflamed by all the 
appetites which nature has implanted in 
the flesh of vigorous men. 

The girl started back from him, 
frightened at his face, his eyes, liis half- 
open mouth, his outstretched hands, but 
he seized her by the shoulders, and with- 
out a word threw her down in the road. 

She let her two pails fall, and they 
rolled over noisily, and all the milk was 
spilt, and then she screamed, but com- 
prehending that it would be of no use 
to call for help in that lonely spot, and 



seeing that he was not going to make 
an attempt on her life, she yielded with- 
out much difficulty, and not very 
angrily either, for he was a strong, hand- 
some young fellow, and really not rough. 

When she got up, the thought of her 
overturned pails suddenly filled her with 
fury, and taking off one of her wooden 
clogs, she threw it, in her turn, at the 
man to break his head, since he did not 
pay her for her milk. 

But he, mistaking the reason for this 
sudden violent attack, somewhat so- 
bered, and frightened at what he had 
done, ran off as fast as he could while 
she threw stones at him, some of which 
hit him in the back. 

He ran for a long time, very long, un- 
til he felt more tired than he had ever 
been before. His legs were so weak 
that they could scarcely carry him; all 
his ideas were confused, he lost the 
recollection of everything, and could no 
longer think about anything; and so he 
sat dov/n at the foot of a tree, and in 
five minutes was fast asleep. He was 
soon awakened, however, by a rough 
shake and, on opening his eyes he saw 
two cocked hats of polished leather 
bending over him, and the two gen- 
darmes of the morning, who were hold- 
ing him and binding his arms. 

'T knew I should catch you again,'* 
said the brigadier, jeeringly. But Ran- 
del got up without replying. The two 
men shook him, quite ready to ill treat 
him if he made a movement, for he was 
their prey now, he had become a jail- 
bird, caught by hunters of criminals 
who would not let him go again. 

"Now, start!" the brigadier said, and 
they set off. Tt was getting evening, 
and the autumn twilight was settling, 



146 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



heavy and dark, over the land, and in 
half an hour they reached the village, 
where every door was open, for the peo- 
ple had heard what had happened. 
Peasants and peasant women and girls, 
excited with anger, as if every man had 
been lobbed, and every woman violated, 
wished to see the wretch brought back, 
so that they mip:ht overwhelm him with 
abuse. They hooted him from the first 
house in the village until they reached 
tne mansion-house, where the mayor 



was waiting for him. Eager to avenge 
himself on this vagabond as soon as he 
saw him, he cried: 

"Ah! my 5ne fellow! here we are!'* 
And he rubbed his hands, more pleased 
than he usually was, and continued: **I 
said so. I said so, the moment I saw 
him in the road." And then with in- 
creased satisfaction: 

*'0h! you blackguard! Oh! you dirty 
blackguard! You will get your twenty 
years, my fine fellow!" 



The Mountebanks 



CoMPARDiN, the clever manager of 
the Eden Reunis Theater, as the thea- 
ter critics invariably called him, was 
reckoning on a great success, and had 
invested his last franc in the affair, 
without thinking of the morrow, or of 
the bad luck which had b^en pursuing 
him so inexorably for months past. For 
a whole week, the walls, the kiosks, 
shopfronts, and even the trees, had been 
placarded with flaming posters, and 
from one end of Paris to the other car- 
riages were to be seen which were cov- 
ered with fancy sketches by Cherct, rep- 
resenting two strong, well-built men who 
looked like ancient atMctcs. The 
younger of them, who was standing with 
his arms folded, had the vacant smile of 
an itinerant mountebank, and the other, 
who was dressed in what was supposed 
to be the costume of a Mexican trapper, 
h<;ld a revolver in his hand. There were 
large-type advertisements in all the pa- 
pers that the Montefiores would appear 
without fail at the Eden Reunis, the 
next Mondav. 



Nothing else was talked about, for 
the puff and humbug attracted people. 
The Montefiores, like fashionable 
knickknacks, succeeded that whimsical 
jade Rose Peche, who had gone off the 
preceding autumn, between the third and 
fourth acts of the burlesque, "Ousca 
Iscar," in order to make a study of love 
in company of a young fellow of seven- 
teen, who had just entered the uni- 
versity. The novelty and difficulty of 
their performance revived and agitated 
the curiosity of the public, for there 
seemed to be an implied threat oi 
death, or, ct any rate, of wounds and of 
blood in it, and it seemed as if they de- 
fied danger wilh absolute indifference. 
And that always pleases women ; it holds 
them and niastcrs them, and they grow 
pale with emotion and cruel enjoyment. 
Consequently, all the seats In the large 
theater were let almost immediately, 
and were soon taken for several days in 
advance. And stout Compardin, losing 
his glass of absinthe over a game of 
dominoes, was in high spirits, seeing thi 



TI-Ii: MOUNTEBANKS 



147 



future through rosy glasses, and ex- 
claimed in a loud voice: "I think I 
have turned up trumps, by George!" 

♦ *****♦ 

The Countess Regina de Villegby was 
lying on the sofa in her boudoir, lan- 
guidly fanning herself. She had only 
received three or four intimate friends 
that day, Saint Mars Montalvin, Tom 
Sheffield, and her cousin Madame de 
Rhouel, a Creole, who laughed as in- 
cessantly as a bird sings. It was grow- 
ing dusk, and the distant rumbling of 
the carriages in the Avenue of the 
Champs-Elysees sounded like some som- 
nolent rhythm. There was a delicate 
perfume of flowers; the lamps had not 
been brought in yet, and chatting and 
laughing filled the room with a con- 
fused noise. 

"Would you pour out the tea?" the 
Countess said, suddenly, touching Saint 
Mars's fingers, who was beginning an 
amorous conversation in a low voice, 
with her fan. And while he slowly 
filled the little china cup, he continued: 
"Are the Montefiores as good as the 
lying newspapers make out?" 

Then Tom Sheffield and the others 
all joined in. They had never setn any- 
thing like it, they declared; it was 
most exciting, and made one shiver un- 
pleasantly, as when the espada comes to 
close quarters with the infuriated brute 
at a bull fight. 

Countess Regina listened in silence, 
and nibbled the petals of a tea rose. 

"How I should like to see them!*' 
giddy Madame de Rhouel exclaimed. 

"Unfortunately, cousin," the Count- 
ess said, in the solemn tones of a 
preacher, "a respectable woman dare not 
let herself be seen in improper places." 



They all agreed with her. Never^Jie- 
bss, Madame de Villegby was present 
at the Montefiores' performance, two 
days later, dressed all in black, and 
wearing a thick veil, at the back of a 
stage box. 

Madame de Villegby was as cold as 
a steel buckler. She had married as 
soon as she left the convent in which 
she had been educated, without any 
affection or even liking for her husband; 
the most sceptical respected her as a 
saint, and she had a look of virgin 
purity on her calm face as she went 
down the steps of the Madeleine on 
Sundays, after high mass. 

Countess Regina stretched herself 
nervously, grew pale, and trembled like 
the strings of a violin, on which an 
artist had been playing some wild sym- 
phony. She inhaled the nasty smell of 
the sawdust, as if it had been the per- 
fume of a bouquet of unknown flowers; 
she clenched her hands, and gazed 
eagerly at the two mountebanks, whom 
the public applauded rapturously at 
every feat. And contemptuously and 
haughtily she compared those two men, 
who v;ere as vigorous as wild animals 
that have grown up in the open air, 
with the lickety limbs that look so awk« 
ward in the dress of an English groom. 

4i 4( « * ♦ >k * 

Count de Villegby had gone back to 
the country, to prepare for his election 
as Councillor-General, and the very eve- 
ning that he started, Pegina again took 
the stage box at the Eden Reunis. Con- 
sumed by sensual ardoi as if by some 
love philter, she scribbled a few words 
on a piece of paper — the eternal for- 
mula that women write on such occa- 
sions. 



148 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



"A carriage will be waiting for you 
at the stage door after the performance 
— An unknown woman who adores you.'* 

And then she gave it to a box opener, 
who handed it to the Montefiore who 
was the champion pistol shot. 

Oh! that interminable waiting in a 
malodorous cab, the overwhelming emo- 
tion, and the nausea of disgust, the fear, 
the desire of waking the coachman who 
was nodding on the box, of giving him 
her address, and telHng him to drive 
her home. But she remained with her 
face against the window, mechanically 
watching the dark passage illuminated 
by a gas lamp, at the "actors' entrance," 
through which men were continually 
hurrying, who talked in a loud voice, 
and chewed the end of cigars which had 
gone out. She sat as if she were glued 
to the cushions, and tapped impatiently 
on the bottom of the cab with her heels. 

When the actor, who thought it was a 
joke, made his appearance, she could 
hardly utter a word, for evil pleasure is 
as intoxicating as adulterated liquor. So 
face to face with this immediate sur- 
render, and this unconstrained immod- 
esty, he at first thought that he had to 
do with a street-walker. 

Regina felt various sensations, and a 
morbid pleasure throughout her whole 
person. She pressed close to him, and 
raised her veil to show how young, 
beautiful, and desirable she was. They 
did not speak a word, like wrestlers be- 
fore a combat. She was eager to be 
locked up with him, to give herself to 
him, and, at last, to know that moral 
uncleanness, of which she was, of course, 
ignorant as a chaste wife; and when 
they left the room in the hotel together, 
where they had spent hours like amorous 



deer, the man dragged himself along, 
and almost groped his way like a blindj 
man, while Regina was smiling, thoughj 
she exhibited the serene candor of an! 
unsuUied virgin, like she did on Sundays, 
after mass. 

Then she took the second. He was 
very sentimental, and his head was full 
of romance. He thought the unknowrj 
woman, who merely used him as heil 
plaything, really loved him, and he was 
not satisfied with furtive meetings. H€ 
questioned her, besought her, and the 
Countess made fun of him. Then shq 
chose the two mountebanks in turn 
They did not know it, for she had for- 
bidden them ever to talk about her to 
each other, under the penalty of nevei| 
seeing her again, and one night tht 
younger of them said with humble ten-j 
derness, as he knelt at her feet: ' 

*'How kind you are, to love me anq 
to want me! I thought that such hap 
piness only existed in novels, and that 
ladies of rank only made fun of pooi 
strolling mountebanks, like us!" 

Regina knitted her golden brows. 

**Do not be angry," he continued 
"because I followed you and found oui 
where you lived, and your real name 
and that you are a countess, and rich^ 
very rich." 

"You fool!" she exclaimed, trembling 
with anger. "People make you believt 
things, as easily as they can a child!" 

She had had enough of him ; he knew 
her name, and might compromise her 
The Count might possibly come bacli 
from the country before the elections 
and then the mountebank began to lov( 
her. l;he no longer had any feeling, an] 
desire for those two lovers, whom a fillif 
from her rosy fin£"='rs could bend to hei 



I 



UGLY 



14<) 



will. It was ti-ne to go on to the next 
chapter, and to seek for fresh pleasures 
elsev'here. 

"I-*.sten to me," she said to the cham- 
pion shot, the next night, "I would 
rath'JT not hide anything from you. I 
like your comrade; I have given myself 
to h'm, and I do not want to have any- 
thing more to do with you." 

'My comrade!" he repeated. 

"Well, what then? The change 
amuses me!" 

He uttered a furious cry, and rushed 
|iat Regina with clenched fists. She 
thought he was going to kill her, and 
closed her eyes, but he had not the 
courage to hurt that delicate body, 
which he had so often covered with 
caresses, and in despair, and hanging his 
head, he said hoarsely: 

"Very well, we shall not meet again, 
since it is your wish." 

The house at the Eden Reunis was as 
full as an overfilled basket. The violins 
were playing a soft and delightful waltz 
of Gungl's, which the reports of a re- 
volver accentuated. 

The Montefiores were standing oppo- 
site to one another, as in Cheret's pic- 
' ture, and about a dozen yards apart. An 
electric light was thrown on the younger, 
>vho was leaning against a large white 
;arget, and very slowly the other traced 
his living outline with bullet after bullet. 



He aimed with prodigious skill, and the 
black dots showed on the cardboard, and 
marked the shape of his body. The ap- 
plause drowned the orchestra, and in- 
creased continually, when suddenly a 
shrill cry of horror resounded from one 
end of the hall to the other. The wo- 
men fainted, the violins stopped, and the 
spectators jostled each other. At the 
ninth ball, the younger brother had 
fallen to the ground, an inert mass, 
with a gaping wound in his forehead. 
His brother did not move, and there 
was a look of madness on his face, 
while the Countess de Villegby leaned 
on the ledge of her box, and fanned 
herself calmly, as implacably as any 
cruel goddess of ancient mythology. 

The next day, between four and five, 
when she was surrounded by her usual 
friends in her little, warm, Japanese 
drawing-room, it was strange to hear in 
what a languid and indifferent voice she 
exclaimed : 

"They say that an accident happened 
to one of those famous clowns, the 
Monta — the Monte — what is the name, 
Tom?" 

"The Montefiores, Madame!*' 

And then they began to talk about 
Angele Velours, who was going to buy 
the former Folies, at the Hotel Drouot, 
before marrying Prince Storbeck. 



Ugly 



Certainly, at this blessed epoch of everybody dreams of resembling every- 

^ the equahty of mediocrity, of rectangu- body else, so that it has become im- 

tlar abomination, as Edgar Allan Poe possible to tell the President of the 

i says — at this delightful period, when Republic from a waiter — in these days 



150 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



which are the forerunners of that prom- 
ising, blissful day, when everything in 
this world will be of a dull, neutral uni- 
formity, certainly at such an epoch, one 
has the right, or rather it is one's duty, 
to be ugly. 

Lebeau, however, assuredly exercised 
that right with the most cruel vigor. He 
fulfilled that duty with the fiercest 
heroism, and to make matters worse, the 
mysterious irony of fate had caused hJm 
to be born with the name of Lebeau, 
while an ingenious god-father, the un- 
conscious accomplice of the pranks of 
destiny, had given him the Christian 
name of Antinous.* 

Even among our contemporaries, who 
were already on the highroad to the 
coming ideal of universal hideousness, 
Antinous Lebeau was remarkable for his 
ugliness, and one might have said that 
he positively threw zeal, too much zeal, 
into the mat'er, though he was not 
hideous like MTabeau, who m?de people 
exclaim, "Oh! the beautiful monster I" 

Alas! No. He was without any 
beauty of ugliness. He was ugly, that 
was all, nothing more nor less; in short, 
he was uglily ugly. He was not hump- 
backed, nor knock-kneed, nor pot- 
bellied; his legs were not like a pair of 
tongs, and his arms were neither too long 
nor too short, and yet, there was an 
utter lack of uniformity about him, not 
only in painters' eyes, but also in every- 
body's, for nobody could meet him in 
the street without turning to look after 
him, and thinking: "Good heavens! 
what an object." 

His hair was of no particular color; a 
light chestnut, mixed with yellow. 
There was not much of it; still, he was 
not absolutely bald, but just bald 



enough to allow his butter-colored pate 
to show. Butter-colored? Hardly! 
The color of margarine would be more 
applicable, and such pale margarine! 

His face was also like margarine, but 
of adulterated margarine, certainly. 
His cranium, the color of unadulterated 
margarine, looked almost like butter, in 
comparison. 

There was very little to say about his 
mouth! Less than little; the sum total 
was — nothing. It was a chimerical 
mouth. 

But take it that I have said nothing 
about him, and let us replace this vain 
description by the useful formula: "Im- 
possible to describe." But you must 
not forget that Antinous Lebeau was 
ugly, that the fact impressed every* 
body as soon as they saw him, and that 
nobody remembered ever having seen an 
uglier person; and let us add, as the 
climax of his misfortune, that he thought 
so himself. 

From this you will see that he was 
not a fool, and not ill-natured either; 
but, of course, he was unhappy. An 
unhappy man thinks only of his wretch- 
edness, and people take his nightcap for 
a fool's cap, while, on the other hand, 
goodness is only esteemed when it is 
cheerful. Consequently, Antinous Le- 
beau passed for a fool, and an ill- 
tempered fool; he was not even pitied 
because he was so ugly ! 
He had only one pleasure in life, and 



*A youth of extraordinary beauty, 
pap^e to the Emperor Hadrian ( \. D. 
117-138), and the object of his extrava- 
gant affection. He was drov-ned in the 
Nile, whether by accident, or in order to 
escape from the life he wa.« leading, \s 
uncertain. 



UGLY 



151 



that was to go and roam about the 
darkest streets on dark nights, and to 
hear the sueet-walkers say: 

"Come home wi.h me, you handsome, 
dark man!" 

It was, alas! a furtive pleasure, and 
he knew that it was not true. For, occa- 
sionally, when the woman was old or 
drunk and he profited by the invitation, 
as soon as the candle was lighted in the 
garret, they no longer n?urmured the 
fallacious 'handsome, dark man." When 
they saw him, the oU women grew stiU 
older, and the drunken women get sober. 
And more than one, although hardened 
against disgust and ready for all risks, 
said to him, in spite of liberal payment: 

"My Httle man, I must say, you are 
most confoundedly ugly." 

At last, however, he renounced even 
that lamentable pleasure, when he heard 
the still more lamentable words which a 
wretched woman could not help uttering 
when he went home with her: 

"Well, I must have been very hungry!" 

Alas! It was he was hungry, unhappy 
man; hungry for something that should 
resemble love, were it ever so little; he 
longed not to l.vc like a pariah any 
more, not to be exiled and p-oscribed 
by his ugliness. And the ugliest, the 
most repugnant woman v/ould have ap- 
peared beautiful to him, if she would 
only not think him ugly, or, at any rate, 
not tell him so, and not let him see that 
she felt horror at him on that account. 

The consequence was, that, when he 
one day met a poor, blear-eyed creature, 
with her f.^ce covered with scabs, and 
beanng evident signs of alcoholism, with 
a driveling mouth, and ragged and filthy 
petticoats, to whom he ga^e liberal alms, 
for which she kissed his hand, he took 



her home with him, had her cleansed, 
dressed, and taken care of, made her his 
servant, and then iiis housekeeper. Next 
he raised her to the rank of h.s mistress, 
and, finally, of course, he married her. 

She was almost as ugly as he was! 
Almost, but certainly not quite; for she 
was hideous, and her hideousness had 
its charm and its beauty, no doubt; that 
something by which a woman can attract 
a man. And she had proved that by 
deceiving him, and she let him see it 
better still, by seducing anoiher man. 

That other man was actually uglier 
than he was. 

He was certainly uglier, a collection 
of every physical and moral ugliness, a 
companion of beggars whom she had 
picked up among her former vagrant 
associates, a jail-bird, a dealer in Httle 
girls, a vagabond covered with filth, with 
legs, like a toads, with a moath like a 
lamprey's, and a death's head, in which 
the nose had been replaced by two holes. 

"And you have wronged mc with a 
wretch like that," the poor cuckold said. 
'And in my own house! and in such a 
manner that I might catch you in the 
very act! And why, why, you wretch? 
Why, seeing that he is uglier than I 
am?" 

*0h! no," she exclaimed. "You may 
say what you like, that I am a dirty 
slut and a strumpet; but do not say 
that he is uglier than you are." 

And the unhappy man stood there, 
vanquished and overcome by her last 
words, which she uttered without un- 
derstanding all the horror which he 
would feel at them. 

"Because, you see, he has his own 
particular ugliness, while you are merely 
ugly like everybody else ^5" 



The Debt 



"Pst! Pst! Come with me, you 
handsome dark fellow. I am very nice, 
as you will see. Do com^ up. At any 
rate you will be able to warm yourself, 
for I have a capital fire at home." 

But nothing enticed the foot-passen- 
gers, neither being called a handsome, 
dark fellow, which she applied quite im- 
partially to old or fat men also, nor the 
promise of pleasure which was empha- 
sized by a caressing ogle and smile, nor 
even the premise of a good fire, which 
was so attractive in the bitter December 
wind. And tall Fanny continued her 
■jseless walk, and the night advanced 
and foot-passengers grew scarcer. In 
another hour the streets would be abso- 
lutely deserted; and unless she could 
manage to pick up some belated drunken 
man, she would be obHged to return 
home alone. 

And yet tall Fanny was a beautiful 
woman! With the head of a Bacchante, 
and the body of a goddess, in all the 
full splendor of her twenty-three years, 
she deserved something better than this 
miserable pavement, where she could not 
even pick up the five francs which she 
wanted for the requirements of the next 
day. But there! In this infernal Paris, 
in this swarming crowd of competitors 
who all jostled each other, courtesans, 
like artists, did not attain to eminence 
until their later years. In that they re- 
sembled precious stones, as the most 
valuable of them are those that have 
been set the oftenest. 

And that was why tall Fanny, who 
was later to become one of the richest 
and most brilliant stars of Parisian gal- 
lantry, was walking about the streets on 
this bitter December night without a 



half -penny in her pocket, in spite of the 
head of a Bacchante, and the body of a 
goddess, and in all the full splendor of 
aer twenty-three years. 

However, it was too late now to hope 
to meet anybody; there was not a single 
foot' passenger about; the street was de- 
cidedly empty, dull, and lifeless. Noth- 
ing was to be heard, except the whistling 
of sudden gusts of wind, and nothing 
was to be seen, except the flickering gas 
lights, which looked like dying butter- 
flies. Well! The only thing was to re- 
turn home alone. 

But suddenly, tall Fanny saw a hu- 
man form standing on the pavement at 
the next crossing. It seemed to be hesi- 
tating and uncertain which way to go. 
The figure, v/hich was very small and 
slight, was wrapped in a long cloak, 
which reached almost to the ground. 

"Perhaps he is a hunchback," the gin 
said to herself. "They like tall women!" 
And she walked quickly toward him, 
from habit already saying: *'Pstl Pst! 
Come home with me, you handsome, 
dark fellow!" What luck! The man 
did not go away, but came toward 
Fanny, although somewhat timidly, 
while she went to meet him, repeating 
her wheedling words, so as to reassure 
him. She went all the quicker, as she 
saw that he was staggering with the 
zigzag walk of a drunken man, and she 
thought to herself: "When once they 
sit down, there is no possibility of get- 
ting these beggars up again, for they 
want to go to sleep just where they are. 
I only hope I shall get to him before he 
tumbles down." 

Luckily she reached him just in time 
to catch him in her arms, but as soon 



\S2 



THE DEBT 



153 



as she had done so, she almost let him 
fall, in her astonishment. It was neither 
a drunken man, nor a hunchback, but a 
child of twelve or thirteen in an over- 
coat, who was crying, and who said in a 
weak voice: 'I beg your pardon, 
Madame, I beg your pardon. If you 
only knew how hungry and cold I am! 
I beg your pardon! Oh! I am so cold." 

"Poor child!" she said, putting her 
arms around him. and kissing him. And 
she carried him off, with a full, but 
happy heart, and while he continued to 
sob, she said to him mechanically: 
"Don't be frightened, my little man. 
You will see how nice I can be! And 
then, you can warm yourself; I have a 
capital fire." 

But the fire was out; the room, how- 
ever, was warm, and the child said, as 
soon as they got in: "Oh! How com- 
fortable it is here! It is a great deal 
better than in the streets, I can tell 
you! And I have been living in the 
streets for six days." He began to cry 
again, and added: "I beg your pardon, 
Madame. I have eaten nothing for two 
days." 

Tall Fanny opened her cupboard, 
which had glass doors. The middle shelf 
held all her linen, and on the upper 
one there was a box of Albert biscuits, a 
drop of brandy at the bottom of a 
bottle, and a few small lumps of sugar 
in a cup. With that and some water 
out of a jug, she concocted a sort of 
broth, which he swallowed ravenously, 
and when he had done, he wished to 
tell his story, which he did, yawning all 
the time. 

His grandfather (the only one of his 
relatives whom he had ever known), 
who had been a painter and decorator at 



Soisson, had died about a month before; 
but before his death he had said to him : 
"When I am gone, httle man, you 
will find a letter to my brother, who is 
in business in Paris, among my papers. 
You must take it to him, and he will be 
certain to take care of you. However, 
in any case you must go to Paris, for 
you have an aptitude for painting, and 
only there can you hope to become an 
artist." 

When the old man was dead (he died 
in the hospital), the child started, 
dressed in an old coat of his grand- 
father's, and with thirty francs, which 
was all that the old man had left be- 
hind him, in his pocket. But when he 
got to Paris, there was nobody of the 
name at the address mentioned on the 
letter. The dead man's brother had left 
there six months before; nobody knew 
where he had gone to, and so the child 
was alone. For a few days he managed 
to exist on what he had over, after pay- 
ing for his journey. After he had spent 
his last franc, he had wandered about 
the streets, as he had no money with 
which to pay for a bed, buying his 
bread by the half -penny-worth, until for 
the last forty-eight hours he had been 
without anything, absolutely without 
anything. 

He told her all this while he was half 
asleep, amid sobs and yawns, so tha\^. 
the girl did not venture to ask him any 
more questions, in spite of her curiosity 
but, on the contrary, cut him short, and 
undressed him while she listened, and 
only interrupted him to kiss him, and 
to say to him "There, there, my poor 
child! You shall tell me the rest to- 
morrow. You cannot go on now, so go 
to bed and have a good sleep." And 



154 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



as soon as he had finished, she put him 
to bed, where he immediately fell into a 
profound sleep. Then she undressed 
herself quickly got into bed by his side, 
so that she might keep him warm, and 
went to sleep, crying to herself, without 
exactly knowing why. 

The next day they breakfasted and 
dined together at a common eating- 
nouse, on money that she had borrowed, 
and when it was dark, she said to the 
child: "Wait for me here; I will come 
for you at closing time." She came 
back sooner, however, about ten oclock. 
She had twelve francs, which she gave 
him, telling him that she had earned 
them, and she continued, with a laugh: 
"I feel that I shall make some more. I 
am in luck this evening, and you have 
brought it me. Do not be impatient, 
but have some milk-posset while you are 
waiting for me." 

She kissed him, and the kind girl felt 
real maternal happiness as she went out. 
An hour later, however, she was arrested 
by the police for having been found in a 
prohibited place, and off she went, food 
for St. Lazare.* 

And the child, who was turned out by 
the proprietor at closing time, and then 
driven from the furnished lodgings the 
next morning, where they told him that 
tall Fanny was in jail, began his 
wretched vagabond life in the streets 
again, with only the twelve francs to de- 
pend on. 

Fifteen years afterward, the news- 
papers announced one morning that the 
famous Fanny Clariet, the celebrated 
"horizontal." whose caprices had caused 
a revolution in hip:h life, that queen of 
frail beauties for whom three men had 



committed suicide, and so many othent 
had ruined themselves, that incompar* 
Lble living statue, who had attracted all 
Paris to the theater where she imper- 
sonated Venus in her transparent skin 
tights, made of woven air and a knitted 
nothing, had been shut up in a lunatic 
asylum. She had been seized suddenly; 
it was an attack of general paralysi*, 
and as her debts were enormous, when 
her estate had been liquidated, she 
would have to end her days at La 
Salpetriere. 

"No, certainly not!" Frangois Guer- 
land, the painter, said to himself, when 
he read the notice of it in the papers. 
"No, the great Fanny shall certainly not 
end L'ke that." For it was certainly she; 
there could be no doubt about it. For a 
long time after she had shown him that 
act cf charity, which he could never 
forget, the child had tried to see his 
benefactress again. But Paris is a very 
mysterious place, and he himself had 
had many adventures before he grew up 
to be a man, and, eventually, almost 
somebody! But he only found her in 
the distance; he had recognized her at 
the theater, on the stage, or as she was 
getting into her carriage, which was fit 
for a princess. And how could he ap- 
proach her then? Could he remind her 
of the time when her price was five 
francs? No, assuredly not; and so he 
had followed her, thanked her, and 
blessed her, from a distance. 

But now the time had come for him 
to pay his debt and he paid it. Although 
tolerably well known as a pointer with 
a future in store for him. he was not 
rich. But what did that matter? He 



*A nrison in Paris. 



A NORMANDY JOKE 



155 



mortgaged that future which people 
prophesied for him, and gave himself 
over, hand and foot, to a picture-dealer. 
Then he had the poor woman taken to 
an excellent asylum where she could 
have not only every care, but every 
necessary comfort and even luxury. 
Alas! however, general paralysis never 
forgives. Sometimes it releases its prey, 
like the cruel cat releases the mouse, 
for a brief moment only to lay hold of 
it again later, more fie-cely than ever. 
Fanny had that period of abatement hi 
her symptoms, and one morning the 
physician was able to say to the young 
man: "You are anxious to remove her? 
Very wJl! But you will soon have to 
bring her back, for the cure is only ap- 
parent, and her present state wii only 
endure for a month, at most, and then 
only if the patient is kept free from 
every excitement and excess!" 

"And without that precaution?" 
Guerland asked him. 

"Then," the doctor replied; "the final 
crisis will b? nil the rearer; that is all. 
But whether it would be nearer or more 
remote, it will rot be the less fatal." 

"You are sure of that?" 

"Absolutely su'-e." 

Frangois Guerland took tall Fanny 
out of the asylum, installed her in 
Splendid apartments, and went to live 



with her there. She had grown old. 
bloated, with white hair, and sometimes 
wandered in her mind, and she did not 
recognize in him the poor little lad on 
whom she had taken pity in the daya 
cone by, nor did he remind her Oi th( 
circumstances. He allowed her to be 
lieve that she was adored by a rich 
young man, who was passionately de- 
voted to her. He was young, ardent, 
and caressing. Never had a mispress 
such a lover, and for three weeks be- 
fore she relapsed into the horrors of 
madness, which were happily soon ter- 
minated by her death, she intoxicated 
herself with the ecstasy of his kisses, 
and thus bade farewell to conscient life 
in an apotheosis of love. 

* i|c He ♦ * 4c i» 

The other day at dessert, after an ar« 
tists' dinner, they were speaking of 
Francois Guerland, whose last picture 
at the Salon had been so deservedly 
praised. 

"Ah! yes," or.e of them said with a 
contemptuous voice and look — "That 
handsome fellow Guerland!" 

And another, accentuating; the msinua • 
tion, added boldly: "Y*^s, that is 
exactly it! That handsome, too hand- 
some fellow Guerland, th^ man who al- 
lows himself to be kept by women/' 



A Normandy Joke 



The procession came in sight in the came first, then the relations, then the 

hollow road which was shaded by the invited guests, and lastly the poor oi 

tall trees which grew on the slopes of the neighborhood while the village ur- 

the farm. The newly-married couole chins, who hovered about the narrow 



1J6 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



road like flies, ran in and out of the 
ranks, or climbed up the trees to see it 
better. 

The bridegroom was a good-looking 
young fellow, Jean Patu, the richest 
farmer in the neighborhood. Above all 
things, he was an ardent sport/iman who 
seemed to lose all common sense in or- 
der to satisfy that passion, who spent 
large sums on his dogs, his keepers, his 
ferrets, and his guns. The bride, Rosalie 
Roussel, had been courted by all the 
likely young fellows in the district, for 
they all thought her prepossessing and 
they knew that she would have a good 
dowry, but she had chosen Patu — partly, 
perhaps, because she liked him better 
than she did the others, but still more, 
like a careful Normandy girl, because 
he had more crown pieces. 

When they went in at the white gate- 
way of the husband's farm, forty shots 
resounded without any one seeing those 
who fired. The shooters were hidden in 
the ditches, and the noise seemed to 
please the men, who were sprawling 
about heavily in their best clothes, very 
much. Patu left his wife, and running 
up to a farm servant whom he perceived 
behind a tree, he seized his gun, and fired 
a shot himself, kicking his heels about 
like a colt. Then they went on, beneath 
the apple-trees heavy with fruit, through 
the high grass and through the herd 
of calves, who looked at them with 
their great eyes, got up slowly and re- 
mained standing with their muzzles 
turned toward the wedding party. 

The mec became serious when they 
came within measurable distance of the 
wedding-dinner. Some of them, the rich 
ones, had on tall, shining silk hats, 
which seemed altogether ou; of place 



there; others had old head-coverings 
with a long nap, which might have been 
taken for moleskin, while the humbler 
among them wore caps. All the women 
had on shawls, which they wore as loose 
wraps, holding the ends daintily under 
their arms. They were red, parti' 
colored, flaming shawls, and their bright- 
ness seemed to astonish the black fowls 
on the dung-heap, the ducks on the side 
of the pond, and the pigeons on the 
thatched roofs. 

The extensive farm-buildings awaited 
the party at the end of that archway of 
apple-trees, and a sort of vapor came 
out of open door and windows, an al- 
most overwhelming smell of eatables, 
which permeated the vast building, issu- 
ing from its openings and even from its 
very walls. The string of guests ex- 
tended through the yard; when the fore- 
most of them reached the house, they 
broke the chain and dispersed, while be- 
hind they were still coming in at the 
open gate. The ditches were now lined 
with urchins and poor curious people. 
The shots did not cease, but came from 
every side at once, injecting a cloud of 
smoke, and that powdery smell v/hich 
has the same intoxicating effects as 
absinthe, into the atmosphere. 

The women were shaking their dresses 
outside the door to get rid of the dusts 
were undoing their cap strings and fold- 
ing their shawls over their arms. Then 
they went into the house to lay them 
aside altogether for the time. The table 
was laid in the great kitchen, which 
could hold a hundred persons; they sat 
down to dinner at two o'clock and at 
eight o'clock they were still eating; the 
men, in their shirt sleeves, with their 
waistcoats unbuttoned, and with red 



A NORMANDY JOKE 



io/ 



faces, were swallowing the food and 
drink as if they were insatiable. The 
cider sparkled merrily, clear and golden 
in the large glasses, by the side of the 
dark, blood-colored wine, and between 
every dish they made the trou, the Nor- 
mandy trou, with a glass of brandy 
which inflamed the body, and put foolish 
notions into the head. 

From time to time, one of the guests, 
being as full as a barrel, would go out 
for a few moments to get a mouthful of 
fresh air, as they said, and then return 
with redoubled appetite. The farmers' 
wives, with scarlet faces and their cor- 
sets nearly bursting, did not like to fol- 
low their example, until one of them, 
feeling more uncomfortable than the 
others, went out. Then all the rest 
followed her example, and came back 
quite ready for any fun, and tiie rough 
jokes began afresh. Broadsides of doubt- 
ful jokes were exchanged across the 
table, all about the wedding-night, until 
the whole arsenal of peasant wit was 
exhausted. For the last hundred years, 
the same broad jokes had served for 
similar occasions, and although every- 
one knew them, they still hit the mark, 
and made both rows of guests roar with 
laughter. 

At the bottom of the table four young 
fellov/s, who were neighbors, were pre- 
paring some practical jokes for the 
newly-married couple, and they seemed 
to have got hold of a good one, by the 
way they whispered and laughed. Sud- 
denly, one of them profiting by a mo- 
ment of silence, exclaimed: "The 
poachers will have a good time to-night 
with this m.oon! I say, Jean, you will 
not be looking at the moon, will you?" 
The bridegroom turned to him quickly 



and replied: "Only let them come, 
that's all!" But the other young fel- 
low began to laugh, and said : "I do not 
think you will neglect your duty for 
them!" 

The whole table was convulsed with 
laughter, so that the glasses shook, but 
the bridegroom became furious at the 
thought that anybody should profit by 
his wedding to come and poach on his 
land, and repeated: "I only say: just 
let them come!" 

Then there was a flood of talk with 
a double meaning which made the bride 
blush somewhat, although she was trem- 
bling with expectation, and when they 
had emptied the kegs of brandy they all 
went to bed. The young couple went 
into their own room, which was on the 
ground floor, as most rooms in farm- 
houses are. As it was very warm, they 
opened the windows and closed the 
shutters. A small lamp in bad taste, a 
present from the bride's father, was 
burning on the chest of drawers, and the 
bed stood ready to receive the young 
people, who did not stand upon all the 
ceremony which is usual among refined 
people. 

The young woman had already taken 
off her wreath and her dress, and was in 
her petticoat, unlacing her boots, while 
Jean was finishing his cigar, and looking 
at her out of the corners of his eyes. 
It was an ardent look, more sensual than 
tender, for he felt more desire than 
love for her. Suddenly with a brusque 
movement, like a man w^ho is going to 
set to work, he took off his coat. She 
had already taken off her boots, and was 
now pulling off her stockings; then she 
said to him: "Go and hide yourself be- 
hind the curtains while I get into bed.*' 



158 



WORKS OF GJY DE MAUPASSANT 



He seemed as if he were going to re- 
fuse, but with a cunning look went and 
hid himself with the exception of his 
head. She laughed and tried to cover 
up his eyes, and they romped in an 
amorous and happy manner, without 
shame or embarrassment. At last he did 
as she asked him, ard in a moment she 
unfastened her petticoat which slipped 
UowTi her legs, fell at her feet and lay on 
the floor in a circle. She left it there, 
stepped '^ver it, iiaked with the excep- 
tion 01 her floatir.g chemise, and slipped 
into the bed. whose springs creaked 
beneath her weight. He immediately 
wci/ up to her, without hie shoes and in 
his trouc'^rs, and stopping ,)ver his wife 
sought her lips, which she nid beneath 
the pillow, when a shot was heard in the 
distance, in the direction of tlie forest 
01" Rap''is, as he thought. 

He raised himself anxiously, and run- 
ning to the windov;, with his heart beat- 
ing, he opened the shutters. Th3 full 
moon flooded the yara with yellow light, 
and the silhouettes of the apple-trees 
made black shadows at his feet, while in 
the distance the fields gleamed, covered 
with the ripe corn. But ashe wab leaning 
out, listening to every sound b the still 
night, two bare a'-ms were put round his 
neck, and his wife whispered, trying to 
pull him back: *'Do leave them alone; 
it has nothing to do with you. Come 
to bed.*' 

He turned round, put his arms round 
her, and drew her toward him, feeling 
her warm skin through the thin ma- 
terial, and lifting her up in his vigorous 
arms, he carried her toward their couch, 
but just as he was laying her on the bed, 
which yielded beneath her weight, they 
heard another report, considerably nearer 



this time. Jean, giving way to his 
tumultuous ragD, swore aloud: "Good 
Cod! Do you think I shall not go out 
and see what it is, because of you? 
Wait, wait a few minutes!" He put on 
his shoes again, took down his gun, 
which was always hanging within reach 
upon the will, and, as his wife threw 
herself on her knees in h:r ter'-or to im- 
plore him not to go, h^ hastily freed 
himself, ran to the winaow and jumped 
into the yard. 

She waited one hour, two hours, until 
daybreak, but her husband did not re- 
turn. Then she lost her head, aroused 
the house, related how angry Jean was, 
and said that he had gone after the 
poachers, and immediately all the male 
farm-servants, even the boys, went in 
search of their master. They found him 
two leagues from the farm, tied hand 
and foot, half dead with rage, his gun 
broken, his trousers turned inside out, 
three dead hares hanging round his neck, 
and a placard on his chest, with these 
words : 

"Who goes on the chase, loses his 
plact.'' 

And later on when he used to tell 
thiS story of his wedding night, he gen- 
erally added: "Ah! As far as a joke 
w--.iit, It was a good joke. They caught 
mt in a snare, as if 1 had been a rabbit, 
the dirty brutes, and they shoved my 
hea f mto a bag. But if 1 can only 
catcb them some day, they had better 
look out tor tnemselves!" 

That IS how they amuse themselves in 
Normandy, on a wedding day. 



The Father 



\ 



1. 

As HE lived at Batigndles and was a 
clerk in the Public Education Office, he 
took the omnibus every morning to the 
center of Paris, sitting opposite a girl 
with whom he fell in love. 

She went tc ihe shop whers she was 
employed at the same time eve^-y day. 
She was a lit'Ie brunette, one of those 
dark girls whose eyes are so dark that 
they look like spots, and whose com- 
plexion has a look like ivory. He al- 
ways saw her coming at the corner of 
the same street. She generally ran to 
catch the heavy vehicle, and would 
spring upon the steps before the horses 
had quite stopped. Then getting inside, 
rather out of breath, and sitting down, 
she would look round her. 

The first time that he saw her, 
Frangois Tessier felt that her face 
pleased him extremely. One sometimes 
meets a woman whom one longs to 
clasp madly in one's arms immediately, 
without even knowing her. That girl 
answered to his inward desires, to his 
secret hopes, to that sort of ideal of 
love which one cherishes in the depths 
of the heart, without knowing it. 

He looked at her intently, in spite of 
himself, and she grew embarrassed at his 
looks and blushed. He saw it and tried 
to turn away his eyes: but he involun- 
tarijv fixed them upon her again eveiy 
moment, although he tried to look in 
another direction, and in a few days 
they knew each other without having 
spoken. He gave up his place to her 
when the omnibus was full, and got out- 
side, though he was very sorry to do it. 
By this Lime she had gone so far as to 



greet him with a Utile smile; and al- 
though she always dropped her eyes un- 
der his looks, which she felt were too 
ardent, yet she did not appear offended 
at being looked at in such a manner. 

They ended by speaking. A kind of 
rapid intimacy had become established 
between them, a daily intimacy of half 
an hour, which was certainly one of the 
most charming half hours in his life to 
him. He thought of her all the rest of 
the time, saw her continually during 
the long office hours, for he was haunted 
and bewitched by that floating and yet 
tenacious recollection which the image 
of a beloved woman leaves in us, and it 
seemed to him chat the entire posses- 
sion of that little person would be mad- 
dening happiness to him, almost above 
human realization. 

Every morning now she shook hands 
with him, and he preserved the feeling 
of that touch, and the recollection of the 
gentle pressure of her little fingers, un- 
til the next day. He almost fancied that 
he preserved the imprint of it on his 
skin, and he anxiously waited for this 
short omnibus ride all the rest of the 
time, while Sundays seemed to him 
heartbreaking days. However, there 
was no doubt that she loved h-m, for one 
Sunday in spring, she promised to go 
and lunch with him at Maison-Lafitte 
the next day. 

n. 

She was at the railway station first, 
which surprised him, but she said: 
"Before going, I want to speak to you. 
We have twenty minutes, and that is 
more than I shall take for what I hav« 
to say," 



159 



160 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



She trembled as she hung on his arm, 
and looked down, while her cheeks were 
pale, but she continued: "I do not 
want you to be deceived in me, and I 
shall not go there with you unless you 
promise, unless you swear — not to do — 
not to do anything that is at all im- 
proper — " 

She had suddenly become as red as a 
poppy, and said no more. He did not 
know what to reply, for he was happy 
and disappointed at the same time. At 
the bottom of his heart, he perhaps pre- 
ferred that it should be so, and yet — 
during the night he had indulged in 
anticipations that sent the hot blood 
flowing through his veins. He should 
love her less, certainly, if he knew that 
her conduct was light, but then it would 
be so charming, so delicious for him! 
And he made all a man's usual selfish 
calculations in love affairs. 

As he did not say anything she began 
to speak again in an agitated voice, and 
with tears in her eyes: "If you do not 
promise to respect me altogether, I shall 
return home." 

And so he squeezed her arm tenderly 
and replied: "I promise, you shall only 
do what you like." She appeared re- 
lieved in mind, and asked with a smile: 
"Do you really mean it?" 

And he looked into her eyes and re- 
plied. "I swear it." 

"Now you may take the tickets," she 
said. 

During the journey they could hardly 
speak, as the carriage was full, and when 
they got to Maison-Lafitte they went 
toward the Seine. The sun, which shone 
full upon the river, upon the leaves, and 
upon the turf, seemed to reflect in them 
his brightness, and th^y went, hand in 



hand, along the bank, looking at the 
shoals of little fish swimming near the 
bank, brimming over with happiness, as 
if they were raised from earth in their 
lightness of heart. 

At last she said: "How "iooHsh you 
must think me!" 

"Why?" he asked. 

"To come out like this, all alone with 
you." 

"Certainly not; it is quite natural." 
"No, no, it is not natural for me — be« 
cause I do not wish to commit a fault, 
and yet this is how girls fall. But if 
you only knew how wretched it is, every 
day the sam^e thing, every day in the 
month, and every month in the year. I 
live quite alone with mamma, and as she 
has had a great deal of trouble, she is 
not very cheerful. I do the best I can 
and try to laugh in spite of everything, 
but I do not always succeed. But all 
the same, it was v/rong in me to come, 
though you, at any rate, v;ill not be 
sorry." 

By the way of an answer he kissed her 
ardently on the ear that was nearest him, 
but she started away from him with an 
abruDt movement, and getting suddenly 
angry exclaimed: "Oh! Monsieur 
Frangois, after what you swore to me!" j 
And they went back to Maison-Lafitte. 

They had lunch at the Petit-Havre, a 
low house, buried under four enormous 
poplar trees, by the side of the river. 
The air, the heat, the small bottle of 
white wine, and the sensation of being 
so close together, made them red and 
silent, with a feeling of oppression, but 
after the coffee they regained their high 
spirits, and having crossed the Seine 
started off alone the bank toward the 



THE FATHER 



161 



village of La Frette. Suddenly he asked ; 
"What is your name?" 

"Louise." 

"Louise," he repeated, and said noth- 
ing more. 

The river, which described a long 
curve, bathed a row of white houses in 
the distance, which were reflected in the 
water. The girl picked the daisies and 
made them into a great bunch, while he 
sang vigorously, as intoxicated as a colt 
that has been turned into a meadow. On 
their left, a vine-covered slope followed 
the river. Suddenly Frangois stopped 
motionless with astonishment: "Oh! 
look there!" he said. 

The vines had come to an end, and 
the whole slope was covered with lilac 
bushes in flower. It was a violet-colored 
wood! A kind of great carpet stretched 
over the earth, reaching as far as the 
village, more than two miles off. She 
also stood surprised and delighted, and 
murmured: "Oh! how pretty!" And 
crossing a meadow they walked toward 
that curious low hill, which every year 
furnishes all the lilac which is sold 
through Paris on the carts of the flower- 
peddlers. 

A narrow path went beneath the trees, 
so they took it, and when they came to 
a small clearing, they sat down. 

Swarms of flies were buzzing around 
them, and making a continuous, gentle 
sound, and the sun, the bright sun of a 
perfectly still day, shone over the bright 
slopes, and from that wood of flowers a 
powerful aroma was borne toward them, 
a wave of perfume, the breath of the 
flowers. 

A church clock struck in the distance. 
They embraced gently, then clasped 
each other close, lying on the grass, 



without the knowledge of anytning ex- 
cept of that kiss. She had closed her 
eyes and held him in her arms, pressing 
him to her closely, without a thought, 
with her reason bewildered, and from 
head to foot in passionate expectation. 
And she surrendered herself altogether 
without knowing that she had given her- 
self to him. But she soon came to her- 
self with the feeling of a great misfor- 
tune, and she began to cry and sob with 
grief, with her face buried in her hands. 

He tried to console her, but she 
wanted to start, to return and go home 
immediately, and she kept saying as she 
walked along, quickly: "Good heavens! 
good heavens!" 

He said to her: "Louise! Louise! 
Plea«;e let us stop here." But now her 
cheeks were red and her eyes hollow, 
and as soon as they got to the railway 
station in Paris, she left him, without 
even saying good-bye. 

III. 

When he met her in the omnibus next 
day, she appeared to him to be changed 
and thinner, 'and she said to him : 'T 
want to speak to you; we will get down 
at the Boulevard." 

As soon as they were on the pavement, 
she said: "We must bid each othet 
good-bye ; I cannot meet you again after 
what has happened." 

"But why?" he asked. 

"Because I cannot; I have been cul^ 
pable, and I will not be so again.'' 

Then he implored her, tortured by de- 
sire, maddened by the wish of having 
her entirely, in the absolute freedom of 
nights of love, but she replied firmly. 
'No. I cannot, I cannot." 



162 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



He, however, only grew all the more 
excued, and promised to marry her, but 
she Said; '"No/ and left him. 

For over a week he did not see her. 
He could not manage to meet her, and 
as be did not know her address, he 
thought he had lost her altogether. On 
the ninth day, however, there was a ring 
at his bell, and when he opened it, she 
was there. She threw herself into his 
arms, and did not resist any longer, and 
for three months she was his mistress. 
He v/as beginning to grow tired of her, 
when she told him a woman's most 
precious secret, and then he had one 
idea and wish — to break with her at any 
price. As, however, he could not do 
that, not knowing how to begin or what 
to say, full of anxiety, he took » de- 
cisive step. One night he changed his 
iodgings, and disappeared. 

The blow was so heavy that she did 
not look for the man v/ho had aban- 
doned her, but threw herself at her 
mother's knees, confessed her misfor- 
tune, and some months after gave birth 
to a boy. 



IV. 



Years passed, and Fran(;ois Tessier 
grew old, without there having been any 
alteration in his life. He led the dull, 
monotonous life of bureaucrats, without 
hopes and without expectations. Every 
day he got up at the same time, went 
through the same streets, went through 
the same door, past the same porter, 
went into the same office, sat in the 
same chair, and did the same v/ork. He 
was alone in the world, alone, during the 
day, in the midst of his different col- 
leagues, and alone at night in his bache- 



lor's lodgings, and he laid by a hundred 

francs a month, against old age. 

Every Sunday he went to the Champs- 
Elysees to watch the elegant people, the 
carriages, and the pretty women, and the 
next day he used to say to one of his 
colleagues: "The return of the car- 
riages from the Bois de Boulogne was 
very brilliant yesterday." One fine 
Sunday morning, howev^er, he went into 
the Pare Monceau where the mothers 
and nurses, sitting on the sides of the 
walks, watched the children playing, and 
suddenly Frangois Tessier started. A 
woman passed by, holding two children 
by the hand: a little boy ot about ten 
and a little girl of four. It was she. 

He walked another hundred yards, 
and then fell into a chair, choking with 
emotion. She had not recognized him, 
and so he came back, wishing to see her 
pgain. She v/as sitting down now and 
the boy was standing by her side very 
quietly, while the little girl was making 
sand castles. It was she, it was cer- 
tainly she, but she had the serious locks 
of a lady, was dressed sim.ply, and 
looked seif-possessed and dignified. He 
looked 2t her from a distance, for he did 
not v3Rtue to co nca", but the little 
boy raised his head, and Francois Tessier 
felt himself tremble. It was his own 
son, there could be no doubt of that. 
And as he looked at him, he thought he 
could recognize himself as he appeared 
in an old photograph taken years ago. 
He remained hidden behind a tree, wait- 
ing for her to go, that he might follow 
her. 

He did not sleep that night. The idea 
of the child especially harassed him. 
His son! Oh! If hf* could only have 
known, have been sure? But what could 



THE FATHER 



i63 



he have done? However, he went to the 
house whe.e she had once Lved and 
asked about her. He was told that a 
neighbor, an honorable man of strict 
morals had been touched by her distress 
and had married her; he knew the fault 
she had committed and had married her, 
and had even recognized the child, his, 
Franqois Tessier's child, as his own. 

He returned to the Pare Monceau 
every Sunday, for then he always saw 
her, and each time he was seized with a 
mad, an irresistible longing to take his 
son into his arms, cover him with kisses 
and to steal him, to carry him off. 

He suffered horribly in his wretched 
isolation as an old bachelor, with nobody 
to care for him, and he also suffered 
atrocious mental torture, torn by pater- 
nal tenderness springing from remorse, 
longing, and jealoury, and from that 
need of loving one's ov/n children which 
nature has implanted in all. And so 
at last he determined to make a de- 
spairing attempt, and going up to her, 
as she entered the park, he said, stand- 
ing in the middle of the path, pale and 
with trembling lips : "You do not recog- 
nize me." She raised her eyes, looked 
at him, uttered an exclamation of hor- 
ror, of terror, and taking the two chil- 
dren by the hand she rushed away, drag- 
ging them after her, while he went home 
and wept, inconsolably. 

Months passed without his seeing her 
again. He suffered, day and night, for 
he was a prey to his paternal love. He 
would gladly have died, if he could only 
have kissed his son , he would have com- 
mitted murder, perfo'^med axiy task, 
braved any danger, ^-entured anything. 
He wrote to her, but she did not reply, 
and after writing her some twenty let- 



ters he saw that there was no hope of 
altering her determination. Then he 
formed the desperate resolution of writ« 
ing to her husband, being quite pre- 
pared to receive a bullet from a revolver, 
if need be. His htter only consisted o* 
a few lines, as follows: 

"Monsieur: 

"You must have a perfect horror of 
my name, but I am so miserable, so 
overcome by misery, that my only hope 
is in you, and therefore I venture to re- 
quest you to grant me an interview of 
only five minutes. 

"I have the honor, etc." 

The next day he received the reply: 

"Monsieur: 

"1 fhrll exnect you tc morrow, Tues- 
day, at five o'clock." 



V. 



As he went up the staircase, Fran(;ois 
Tessier's heart beat so violently that he 
had to stop several times. There was a 
dull and violent noise in his breast, the 
noise as of some animal galloping; he 
could only breathe with difficulty, and 
had to hold on to the banisters in order 
not to fall. 

He rang the bell on the third floor, and 
v/hen a maidservant had opened the 
door, he asked : "Dees Monsieur Flamel 
live here?" 

"Yes, Monsieur. Kindly come in." 

He was shown into the drawing-room; 
he was alone and waited, feeling be- 
wildered, as in the midst of a catastro- 
phe, until a door opened and a man 
came in. He was tall, serious, and 
rather stout, he wore a black frock-coat, 
and pointed to a chair with his hand 



164 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



Francois Tessier sat down, and said, 
panting: "Monsieur — Monsieur — I do 
not know whether you know my name — 
whether you know — " 

Monsieur Flamel interrupted him: 
"You need not tell it me. Monsieur, I 
know it. My wife has spoken to me 
about you." 

He spoke it in the dignified tone of 
voice of a good man who wishes to be 
severe, — with the commonplace state- 
liness of an honorable man, and Fran- 
gois Tessier continued: "Well, Mon- 
sieur, I want to say this. I am dying 
of grief, of remorse, of shame, and I 
would like once, only once, to kiss the 
child." 

Monsieur Fl mel rose and rang the 
bell, and when the servant came in, he 
said: "Will /ou bring Louis here?" 
When she had gone out, they remained 
face to face, A^ithout speaking, having 
nothing more :o say to one another, and 
waited. Then, suddenly, a little boy of 
ten rushed into the room, and ran up to 
the man whom he believed to be his 



father, but he stopped when he saw a 
stranger, and Monsieur Flamel kissed 
him and said: "Now go and kiss that 
gentleman, my dear." And the child 
went up to Tessier nicely, and looked 
at him. 

Frangois Tessier had risen, he let his 
hat fall and was ready to fall himself 
as he looked at his son, while Monsieur 
Flamel had turned away, from a feeling 
of delicacy, and was looking out of the 
window. 

The child waited in surprise, but he 
picked up the hat and gave it to the 
stranger. Then Frangois, taking the 
child up in his arms, began to kiss him 
wildly all over his face, on his eyes, his 
cheeks, on his mouth, on his hair, and 
the youngster, frightened at the shower 
of kisses tried to avoid them, turned 
away his head and pushed away the 
man's face with his little hands. But 
suddenly Frangois Tessier put him down, 
cried: "Good-bye! Good-bye!" and 
rushed out of the room as if he had been 
a thief. 



The Artist 



"Bah! Monsieur," the old mounte- 
bank said to me; "it is a matter of ex- 
^jrcise and habit, that is all! Of course, 
one requires to be a little gifted that 
way and not to be butter-fingered, but 
what is chiefly necessary is patience and 
daily practice for long, long years." 

His modesty surprised me all the 
more, because of all performers who are 
generally infatuated with their own skill, 
he was the most wonderfully clever one 



I had met. Certainly I had frequently 
seen him, for everybody had seen him 
in some circus or other, or even in trav- 
eling shows, performing the trick that 
consists of putting a man or woman with 
extended arms against a wooden target, 
and in throwing knives between their 
fingers and round their heads, from a 
distance. There is nothing very extraor- 
dinary in it, after all, when one knows 
the tricks of the trade, and that the 



THE ARTIST 



165 



knives are not the least sharp, and stick 
into the wood at some distance from 
the flesh. It is the rapidity of the 
throws, the glitter of the blades, and 
the curve which the handles make toward 
their living object, which give an air of 
danger to an exhibition that has become 
commonplace, and only requires very 
middHng skill. 

But here there was no trick and no 
deception, and no dust thrown into the 
eyes. It was done in good earnest and 
in all sincerity. The knives were as 
sharp as razors, and the old mountebank 
planted them close to the flesh, exactly 
in the angle between the fingers. He 
surrounded the head with a perfect halo 
of knives, and the netk with a collar 
from which nobody could have extri- 
cated himself without cutting his caro- 
tid artery, while, to increase the difli- 
culty, the old fellow went through the 
performance without seeing, his whole 
face being covered with a close mask of 
thick oilcloth. 

Naturally, like other great artists, he 
was not understood by the crowd, who 
confounded him with vulgar tricksters, 
and his mask only appeared to them a 
trick the more, and a very common trick 
into the bargain. 

"He must think us very stupid," they 
Baid. "How could he possibly aim with- 
out having his eyes open?" 

And they thought there must be im- 
perceptible holes in the oilcloth, a sort 
of latticework concealed in the mate- 
rial. It was useless for him to allow the 
public to examine the mask for them- 
selves before the exhibition began. It 
was all very well that they could not 
discover any trick, but they were only 
nil the more convinced that they were 



being tricked. Did not the people kno^ 
that they ought to be tricked? 

I had recognized a great artist in the 
old mountebank, and I was quite sure 
that he was altogether incapable of any 
trickery. I told him so, while express- 
ing my admiration to him; and he had 
been touched by my open admiration 
and above all by the justice I had done 
him. Thus we became good friends, 
and he explained to me, very modestly, 
the real trick which the crowd do not 
understand, the eternal trick contained 
in these simple words'. "To be gifted 
by nature and to practice every day for 
long, long years." 

He had been especially struck by the 
certainty which I expressed that any 
trickery must become impossible to him. 
"Yes," he said to me; "quite impos- 
sible ! Impossible to a degree which you 
cannot imagine. If I were to tell you! 
But where would be the use?" 

His face clouded over, and his eyes 
filled with tears. I did not venture to 
force myself into his confidence. My 
looks, however, were not so discreet as 
my silence, and begged him to speak; so 
he responded to their mute appeal. 

"After all," he said; "why should I 
not tell you about it? You will under- 
stand me." And he added, with a look 
of sudden ferocity: "She understood it, 
at any rate!" 

"Who?" I asked. 

"My strumpet of a wife," he replied. 
"Ah! Monsieur, what an abominable 
creature she was — if you only knew! 
Yes, she understood it too well, too well, 
and that is why I hate her so; even 
more on that account, than for having 
deceived me. For that is a natural fault, 
is it not. and may be pardoned? But 



166 



WORKS OF CUY DE MAUPASSANT 



the other tiing was a crime, a horrible 
crime." 

The woman, who stood against the 
wooden target every night with her arms 
stretched out and her fingers extended, 
and whom the old mountebank fitted 
with gloves and with a halo formed of 
his knives, which were as sharp as razors 
and which he planted close to her, was 
his wife. She might have been a woman 
of forty, and must have been fairly 
pretty, but with a perverse prettiness; 
she had an impudent mouth, a mouth 
that was at the same time sensual and 
bad, with the lower lip too thick for the 
thin, dry upper lip. 

I had several times noticed that every 
time he planted a knife in the board, 
she uttered a laugh, so low as scarcely to 
be heard, but which was very signifi- 
cant when one heard it, for it was a 
hard and very mocking laugh. I had 
always attributed that sort of reply to 
an artifice which the occasion required. 
It was intended, I thought, to accentuate 
the danger she incurred and the con- 
tempt that she felt for it, thanks to the 
sureness of the thrower's hands, and so 
I was vey much surprised when the 
mountebank said to me: 

"Have you observed her laugh, I say? 
Her evil laugh which makes fun of me, 
and her cowardly laugh which defies me? 
Yes, cowardly, because she knows that 
nothing can happen to her, nothing, in 
spite of all she deserves, in spite of all 
that I ought to do to her, in spite of all 
that I wa7it ^o do to her." 

*'What do you want to do?'* 

"Confound it! Cannot you guess? I 
want to kill her." 

"To kill her, because she has — " 

"Because she has deceived me? No, 



no, not that, I tell you again. I have 
forgiven her for that a long time ago, 
and I am too much accustomed to it! 
But the worst of it is that the first time 
I forgave her, when I told her that all 
the same I m'ght some day have my re- 
venge by cutting her throat, if I choose, 
without seeming to do it on purpose, as 
if it were an accident, mere awkward- 
ness — " 

' Oh! So you .^>aid that to her?" 

"Of course I did, and I meant it. I 
thought I might be able to do it, for you 
see I had the perfect right to do so. It 
was so simple, so easy, so tempting! 
Just think! A mistake of less than half 
an inch, and her skin would b^ cut at 
the neck where the jugular vein is, and 
the jugular would be severed. My 
knives cut very well! And when once i 
the jugular is cut — good-bye. The blood I 
would spurt out, and one, two, three red 
jets, and all would be over; she would 
be dead, and I should have had my re- 
venge!" 

"That is true, certainly, horribly 
true!" 

"And without any risk to me, eh? 
An accident, that is all; bad luck, one of 
those mistakes which happen every day 
in our business. What could they ac- 
cuse me of? Whoever would think of 
accusing me, even? Homicide through 
imprudence, that would be all! They 
would even pity me, rather than accuse 
me. *My wife! My poor wife I' I 
should say, sobbing, *My wife, who is 
so necessary to me, who is half the 
breadwinner, who takes part in my per* 
formancel* You must acknowledge that 
I should be pitied!" 

"Certainly; there is not the least 
doubt aboct that." 



FALSE ALARM 



167 



"And you must allow that such a re- 
venge would be a very nice revenge, the 
best possible revenge which I could have 
with assured impunity." 

"Evidently that is so." 

*'Very well! But when I told her so, 
as I have to'd you, end more forcibly 
still; threatening her, as I wab mad with 
rage and ready to do the deed that I 
had dreamed of on the spot, what do 
you think she said?" 

"That you were a good fellow, and 
would certainly not have the atrocious 
courage to — " 

"Tut! tut! tut! I am not such a 
good fellow as you think. I am not 
frightened of blood, and that I have 
proved already, though it would be use- 
less to tell you how and where. But I 
had no necessity to prove it to her, for 
she knows that I am capable of a good 
many things; even of crime; especially 
of one crime." 

"And she was not frightened?'* 

"No. She merely replied that I could 
not do whrt I said; you understand. 
That I could not do it!" 

"Why not?" 

"Ah ! Monsieur, so you do not under- 
stand? Why do you not? Have I not 
explained to you by what constant, long, 
daily pract'ce I have learned to plant my 
knives without seems; what I am doing?" 

"Yes, well, what thei.?" 

"Well! Cannot you understand what 
she has understood with such terrible 



results, that now my hand would no 
longer obey me if I wished to make a 
mistake as 1 threw?" 

"Is it possible?" 

"Nothing is truer, I am sorry to say. 
For I really have wished to have the 
revenge which I have dreamed of, and 
which I thought so easy. Exasperated 
by that bad woman's insolence and con- 
fidence in her own safety, I have sev- 
eral times made up my mind to kill 
her, and have exerted all my energy and 
all my skill to make my knives fly 
aside when I threw them to m^ke a 
border round her neck. I have tried 
with ail my might to make them deviate 
half an inch, just enough to cut her 
throat. I wanted to, and I have never 
succeeded, never. And always the slut's 
horr!b'e laugh makes fun of me, alv/ays, 
always." 

And with a deluge of tears, with 
something like a roar of unsatiated and 
muzzled rage, he ground his teeth as he 
wound up: "She knows me, the jade; 
she is in the secret of my work, of my 
patience, of my trick, routine, whatever 
you may call it! She lives in my inner- 
most being, and sees into it more closely 
than you do, or than I do myself. She 
knows what a faultless machine I have 
become, the machine of which she makes 
fun, the machine which is too welt 
wound up. the machine which cannot get 
out of order — and she knows that I can* 
net make a mistake.'* 



False Alarm 



"I HAVE a perfect horror of pianos," 
said Fremecourt, "of those hateful boxes 
which ull up a drawing-room, and have 



not even the soft sound and the queex 
shape of the mahogany or veneered 
sninets, to which our grandmothers 



168 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



sighed out exquisite, long-forgotten bal- 
lads, allowing their fingers to run over 
the keys, while around them there floated 
a delicate odor of powder and muslin, 
and some little Abbe or other turned 
over the leaves, continually making mis- 
takes as he looked at the patches close to 
the lips on the white skin of the player 
instead of at the music. *"I wish there 
were a tax upon them, or that some 
evening during a riot, the people would 
make huge bonfires of them, which 
would illuminate the whole town. They 
«imply exasperate me, and affect my 
nerves, and make me think of the tor- 
tures those poor girls must suffer, who 
are condemned not to stir for hours, 
but to keep on constantly strumming 
away at the chromatic scales and 
monotonous arpeggios, and to have no 
other object in life except to win a prize 
at the Conservatoire. 

'Their incoherent music suggests to 
me the sufferings of those w^ho are ill, 
abandoned, wounded. It proceeds from 
every floor of every house, it irritates 
you, nearly drives you mad, and makes 
you break out into ironical fits of 
laughter. 

"And yet when that madcap Lalie 
Spring honored me with her love — ^I 
never can refuse anything to a woman 
"who smells of rare perfume, and who 
has a large store of promises in her 
looks, and who puts out her red, smiling 
lips immediately, as if she were going to 
offer you handsel money — I bought a 
oiano, so that she might strum upon it 
to her heart's content. I got it, how- 
ever, on the hire-purchase system, and 
paid so much a month, as grisettes* do 
for their furniture. 

"At that time I had the aoartments I 



had so long dreamed of: warm, elegant, 
light, well-arranged, with two entrances, 
and an incomparable porter's wife, who 
had been canteen-keeper in a Zouave 
regiment, and knew everything and un- 
derstood everything at a wink. 

"It was the kind of apartment from 
which a woman has not the courage to 
escape, so as to avoid temptation, where 
she becomes weak, and rolls herself up 
on the soft, eider-dov/n cushions like a 
cat, where she is appeased, and in spite 
of herself, thinks of love at the sight of 
the low, wide couch, so suitable for 
caresses, rooms with heavy curtains, 
which quite deaden the sound of voices 
and of laughter, and filled with fluwers 
that scent the air, whose smell lingers 
on the folds of the hangings. 

'They were rooms in which a woman 
forgets time, w^here she begins by accept- 
ing a cup of tea and nibbling a sweet 
cake, and abandons her fingers timidly 
and with regret to other fingers which 
tremble, and are hot, and so by degrees 
loses her head and succumbs. 

"I do not know whether the piano 
brought us ill luck, but Lalie had not 
even time to learn four songs before she 
disappeared like the wind, just as she 
had come — flick-flack, good-night, good- 
bye. Perhaps it was from spite, because 
she had found letters from other women 
on my table; perhaps to change her 
companion, as she v/as not one of those 
to hang on to one man and become a 
fixture. 

"I had not been in love with her, 
certainly, but yet such breakings have 
always some effect on a man. Some 



*Work-girl, a name applied to those 
whose, virtue is not too rigorous. 



FALSE ALARM 



169 



string breaks when a woman leaves you, 
and you think that you must start all 
over again, and take another chance in 
that forbidden sport in which one risks 
so much, the sport that one has been 
through a hundred times before, and 
which leaves you nothing to show in the 
end. 

''Nothing is more unpleasant than to 
^end your apartments to a friend, to 
realize that some one is going to dis- 
turb the mysterious intimacy which 
really exists between the actual owner 
and his fortune, and violate the soul of 
those past kisses which float in the air; 
that the room whose tints you connect 
with some recollection, some dream, 
some sweet vision, and whose colors 
you have tried to make harmonize with 
certain fair-haired, pink-skinned girls, is 
going to become a commonplace lodg- 
ing, like the rooms in an ordinary lodg- 
ing house, fit only for hidden crime and 
for evanescent love affairs. 

"However, poor Stanis had begged me 
so urgently to do him that service; he 
was so very much in love with Madame 
de Frejus. Among the characters in 
this comedy there was a brute of a hus- 
band who was terribly jealous and sus- 
picious; one of those Oihellos who have 
always a flea in their ear, and come 
back unexpectedly from shooting or the 
club, who pick up pieces of torn paper, 
listen at doors, smell out meetings with 
the nose of a detective, and seem to 
have been sent into the world only to be 
cuckolds, but who know better than most 
how to lay a snare, and to play a nasty 
trick. So when I went to Venice, I con- 
sented to let him have my rooms. 

"I will leave you to guess whether 
they made up for lost time, although, 



after all, it is no business of yours. My 
journey, however, which was only to 
have lasted a few weeks, — just long 
enough for me to benefit by the change 
of air, to rid my brain of the image 
of my last mistress, and perhaps to find 
another, among that strange mixture of 
society which one meets there, a med- 
ley of American, Slav, Viennese, and 
Italian women, who instill a little arti- 
ficial life into that old city, asleep amid 
the melancholy silence of the lagoons, 
— was prolonged, and Stanis was as 
m,uch at home in my rooms as he was 
in his own. 

"Madame Piquignolles, the retired 
canteen-keeper, took great interest in 
this adventure, watched over their little 
love affair, and, as she used to say, was 
on guard as soon as they arrived one 
after the other, the marchioness cov- 
ered with a thick veil, and slipping in 
as quickly as possible, always uneasy, 
and afraid that Monsieur de Frejus 
might be following her, and Stanis with 
the assured and satisfied look of an 
amorous husband, who is going to meet 
his little wife after having been away 
from home for a few days. 

"Well, one day during one of those 
delicious moments when his beloved one, 
fresh from her bath, and invigorated by 
the coolness of the water, was pressing 
close to her lover, reclining in his arms, 
and smiling at him with half-closed eyes, 
during one of those moments when peo- 
ple do not speak, but continue their 
dream, the sentinel, without even asking 
leave, suddenly burst into the room, for 
worthy Madame Piquignolles was in a 
terrible fight. 

"A few minutes before, a well-dressed 
gentleman, followed by two others of 



170 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



seedy appearance, but who looked very 
strong, and fit to knock anybody down, 
had questioned and cross-questioned her 
in a rough manner, and tried to turn her 
inside out, as she said, asking her 
whether Monsieur de Fremecourt lived 
on the first floor, without giving her 
any explanation. When she declared 
that there was nobody occupying the 
apartments then, as her ledger was not 
in France, Monsieur de F.ejus — for it 
could certainly be nobody but he — had 
burst out into an evil laugh, and said. 
*Very well; I shall go and fetch the 
Police Commissary of the district, and 
he will make you let us in!' 

"And as quickly as possible, while 
ohe was telling her story, now in a low, 
and then in a shrill voice, the woman 
picked up the marchioness's dress, cloak, 
iace-edgcd drawers, silk petticoat, and 
little varnished shoes, pulled her out of 
bed, without giving her time to let her 
know what she was doing, or to moan, 
or to have a fit of hysterics, and carried 
her off, as if she had been a doll, with 
all her pretty toggery, to a large, empty 
cupboard in the dining-room, that was 
concealed by Flemish tapestry. 'You 
are a man. Try to get out of the mess,' 
she said to Stanis as she shut the door; 
'I will be answerable for Madame.' And 
the enormous woman, who was out of 
breath by hurrying upstairs as she had 
done, and whose kind, large, red face 
was dripping with perspiration, while 
her ample bosom shook beneath her 
loose jacket, took Madame de Frejus 
on to her knees as if she had been a 
baby, whose nurse was trying to quiet 
her. 

"She felt the poor little culprit's heart 
beating as if it were going to burst, 



while shivers ran over her skin, which 
was so soft and delicate that the porter's 
wife was afraid that she might hurt it 
with her coarse hands. She was struck 
with wonder at the cambric chemise, 
which a gust of wind would have carried 
off as if it had been a pigeon's feather, 
and by the delicate odor of that scarce 
flower which filled tlie narrow cupboard, 
and which rose up in the darkness from 
that supple body, which was impreg- 
nated with the warmth of the bed. 

"She would have liked to be there, 
in that profaned room, and to tell them 
in a loud voice— with her hands upon 
her hips as at the time when she used 
to serve brandy to her comrades at 
Daddy I'Arbi's — that they had no com- 
monsense, that they were none of them 
good for much, neither the Police Com- 
missary, the husband nor the subordi- 
nates, to come and torment a pretty 
young thing, who was having a little bit 
of fun, like that. It was a nice job, to 
get over the wall in that way, to be 
absent from the second call of names, 
especially when they were all of the 
same sort, and were glad of five francs 
an hour! She had certainly done quite 
right to get out sometimes and to have 
a sweetheart, and she was a charming 
little thing, and that she would say, if 
she were called before the Court as a 
witness. 

"And she took Madame de Frejus in 
her arms to quiet her, and repeated the 
same thing a dozen times, whispered 
pretty things to her, and inteirupted het 
occasionally to listen whether they were 
not searching all the nooks and corners 
of the apartment. 'Come, come,' she 
said; *do not distress yourself. Be calm, 
my d\^^. It hurts me to hear you cry 



FALSE ALARM 



171 



like that. Tbere will be no mischief 
done, I will vouch for it.' 

"The marchioness, who was nearly 
fainting and who was prostrate with 
terror, could only sob out: 'Good 
heavens! Good heavens!' 

"She scarcely seemed to be conscious 
of anything; her head seemed vacant, 
her ears buzzed, and she felt benumbed, 
like one who goes to sleep in the snow. 

"Ah! Only to forget everything, as 
her love dream was over, to go out 
quickly like those little rose-colored 
tapers at Nice, on Shrove Tuesday eve- 
ning. 

"Oh! Not to awake any more, as the 
to-morrow would come in black and sad, 
because a whole array of barristers, 
ushers, solicitors, and judges would be 
against her, and disturb her usual 
quietude, would torment her, cover her 
with mud, as her delicious, amorous ad- 
venture — ^her first — which had been so 
carefully enveloped in mystery, and had 
been kept so secret behind closed shut- 
ters and thick veils, would become an 
everyday episode of adultery which 
would get wind and be discussed from 
door to door. The lilac had faded, and 
she was obliged to bid farewell to happi- 
ness, as if to an old friend who was go- 
ing far, very far away, never to return! 

"Suddenly, however, she started and 
sat up, with her neck stretched out and 
her eyes fixed, while the ex-canteen- 
keeper, who was trembling with emo- 
tion, put her hands to her left ear, 



which was her best, like a speaking 
trumpet, and tried to hear the cries 
which succeeded each other from room 
to room, amid a noise of opening and 
shutting of doors. 

"'Ah! upon my word, I am not 
blind. It is Monsieur de Stanis who k 
looking for me, and making all that 
noise. Don't you hear: "M'ame Pi- 
quignolles, M'me Piquignolles ! " Saved, 
saved ! ' 

"Stanis was still quite pale, and in a 
panting vo'ce he cried out to them: 
'Nothing serious, only that fool Freme- 
court, who lent me the rooms, has for- 
gotten to pay for his piano for the last 
five months, a hundred francs* a month. 
You understand; they came to claim it 
and as we did not reply, why, they 
fetched the Police Commissary, and 
gained entrance in the name of the law.' 

"'A nice fright to give one!' Ma- 
dame Piquignolles said, throwing her- 
self on to a chair. 'Confound the nasty 
piano!' 

*Tt may be useless to add, that the 
marchioness has quite renounced trifles, 
as our forefathers used to say, and 
would deserve a prize for virtue, if the 
Academy would only show itself rather 
more gallant toward pretty women, who 
take crossroads in order to become vir- 
tuous. 

"Emotions like that cure people of 
running risks of that kiiid!" 



$20. 



That Pig of a Morm 



"There, my friend," I said to La- 
barbe, "you have just repeated those 
five words, That pig of a Morin.' Why 
on earth do I never hear Morin's name 
mentioned without his being called a 

Labarbe, who is a Deputy, looked at 
me with eyes like an owl's, and said: 
*'Do you mean to say that you do not 
know Morin's story, and yet come from 
La Rochelle?" I was obliged to declare 
that I did not know Morin's story, and 
then Labarbe rubbed his hands, and be- 
gan his recital. 

"You knew Morin, did you not, and 
you remember his large linen-draper's 
shop on the Quai de la Rochelle?" 

"Yes, perfectly." 

"All right, then. You must know that 
in 1862 or '63 Morin went to spend a 
fortnight in Paris for pleasure, or for 
his pleasures, but under the pretext of 
renewing his stock, and you also know 
what a fortnight in Paris means for a 
country shopkeeper; it makes his blood 
grow hot. The theater every evening, 
women's dresses rustling up against you, 
and continual excitement; one goes al- 
most mad with it. One sees nothing 
but dancers in tights, actresses in very 
low dresses, round legs, fat shoulders, 
all nearly within reach of one's hands, 
without daring or being able to touch, 
and one scarcely ever tastes an inferior 
dish. And one leaves it, with heart still 
all in a flutter, and a mind still ex- 
hilarated by a sort of longing for kisses 
which tickle one's lips. 

"Morin was in that state when he 
took his ticket for La Rochelle by the 
8:40 night express. And he was walk- 
ing up and down the waiting-room at the 



station, when he stopped suddenly in 
front of a young lady who was kissing 
an old one. She had her veil up, and 
Morin murmured with delight: *By 
Jove, what a pretty woman!' 

"When she had said 'Good-bye' to 
the old lady, she went into the waiting- 
room, and Morin followed her; then she 
went on to the platform and Morin 
still followed her; then she got into 
an empty carriage, and he again fol- 
lowed her. There were very few 
travelers by the express, the engine 
whistled, and the train started. They 
were alone. Morin devoured her with 
his eyes. She appeared to be about 
nineteen or twenty, and was fair, tall, 
and with demure looks. She wrapped 
a railway rug round her legs and 
stretched herself on the seat to sleep. 

"Morin asked himself: 'I wonder who 
she is?' And a thousand conjectures, 
a thousand projects went through his 
head. He said to himself: 'So many 
adventures are told as happening on 
railway journeys, that this may be one 
that is going to present itself to me. 
Who knows? A piece of good luck like 
that happens very quickly, and perhaps 
I need only be a little venturesome. 
Was it not Danton who said: "Auda- 
city, more audacity, and always auda- 
city." If it was not Danton it was 
Mirabeau, but that does not matter. 
But then, I have no audacity, and that 
is the difficulty. Oh! If one only 
knew, if one could only read people's 
minds! I will bet that every day one 
passes by magnificent opportunities 
without knowing it, though a gesture 
would be enough to let me know that 
she did not ask for anything better. 



172 



THAT PIG OF A MORIN 



173 



*Th<5n he imagined to himself com- 
binations which led him to triumph. 
He pictured some chivalrous deed, or 
merely some slight service which he 
rendered her, a lively, gallant conver- 
sation which ended in a declaration, 
"which ended in — in what you think. 

"But he could find no opening; had 
no pretext, and he waited for some 
fortunate circumstance, with his heart 
ravaged, and his mind topsy-turvy. 
The night passed^ and the pretty girl 
still slept, while Morin was meditating 
his own fall. The day broke and soon 
the first ray of sunlight appeared in the 
sky, a long, clear ray which shone on 
the face of the sleeping girl, and woke 
her, so she sat up, looked at the coun- 
try, then at Morin and smiled. She 
smiled like a happy woman, with an 
engaging and bright look, and Morin 
trembled. Certainly that smile was in- 
tended for him, it was a discreet in- 
vitation, the signal which he was wait- 
ing for. That smile meant to say: 
'How stupid, what a ninny, what a dolt, 
what a donkey you are, to have sat 
there on your seat like a post all night. 

'Just look at me, am I not charming? 
And you have sat like that for the 
whole night, when you have been alone 
with a pretty woman, you great sim- 
pleton!* 

"She was still smiling as she looked 
at him, she even began to laugh; and 
he lost his head trying to find some- 
thing suitable to say, no matter what. 
But he could thing of nothing, notliing, 
and then, seized with a coward's cour- 
age, he said to himself: 'So much the 
worse, I will risk everything,' and sud- 
denly, without the slightest warning, he 
went toward her, his arms extended, his 



lips protruding and seizing her in his 
arms kissed her. 

"She sprang up with a bound, crying 
out: 'Help! help!' and screaming with 
terror; then she opened the carriage 
door, and waved her arm outside; then 
mad with terror she was trying to jump 
out, while Morin, who was almost dis- 
tracted, and feeling sure that she would 
throw herself out, held her by her skirt 
and stammered: 'Oh! Madame! Ohl 
Madame!' 

"The train slackened speed, and then 
stopped. Two guards rushed up at the 
young woman's frantic signals, and 
she threw herself into their arms, stam- 
mering: 'That man wanted — wanted— 
to — to — ' And then she fainted. 

"They were at Mauze station, and 
the gendarme on duty arrested Morin. 
When the victim of his brutality had 
regained her consciousness, she made 
her charge against him, and the police 
drew it up. The poor linen-draper did 
not reach home till night, with a prose- 
cution hanging over him for an outrage 
on morals in a public place. 

II. 

"At that time I was editor of the 
'Fanal des Charentes,' and I used to 
meet Morin every day at the Cafe du 
Commerce. The day after his adven- 
ture he came to see me, as he did not 
know what to do. I did not hide my 
opinion from him, but said to him : 'You 
are no better than a pig. No decent 
man behaves like that.' 

"He cried. His wife had given him 
a beating, and he foresaw his trade 
ruined, his name dragged through the 
mire and dishonored, his friends out* 



174 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



raged and taking no more notice of him. 
In tnc end he excited my pity, and I 
sent J or my colleague Rivet, a banter- 
ing, but very sensible little man, to give 
us his advice. 

"He advised me to see the Public 
Prosecutor, who v;as a friend of mine, 
and so I sent Morin home, and went 
to call on the magistrate. He told me 
that the woman who had been insulted 
was a young lady, Mademoiselle Hen- 
riette Bonnel, who had just received her 
certificate as governess in Paris, and 
spent her holidays with her uncle and 
aunt, who were very respectable trades- 
people in Mauze, and what made 
Morin's case all the more serious was, 
that the uncle had lodged a complaint. 
But the public official had consented 
to let the matter drop if this complaint 
were withdrawn, so that we must try 
and get him to do this. 

"I went back to Morin's and found 
him in bed, ill with excitement and dis- 
tress. His wife, a tall, rawboned woman 
with a beard, was abusing him contin- 
ually, and she showed me into the room, 
shouting at me: *So you have come to 
see that pig of a Morin. Well, there he 
is, the darling!' And she planted her- 
self in front of the bed, with her hands 
on her hips. I told him how matters 
stood, and he begged me to go and see 
her uncle and aunt. It was a delicate 
mission, but I undertook it, and the 
poor devil never ceased repeating: *I 
assure you I did not even kiss her, no, 
not even that. I will take my oath to 
it!' 

"I replied: *It is all the same; you 
are nothing but a pig.' And I took a 
thousand franrs which he gave me, to 
employ the.m as I thought best, but as 



I did not care venturing to her uncle's 
house alone, I begged Rivet to go with 
me, which he agreed to do, on the con- 
dition that we went immediately, for 
he had some urgent business at La 
Rochelle that afternoon. So two hours 
later we rang at the door of a nice 
countryhouse. A pretty girl came and 
opened the door to us, who was 
assuredly the young lady in question, 
and I said to Rivet in a low voice: 
'Confound it! I begin to understand 
Morin!' 

"The uncle. Monsieur Tonnelet, sub- 
scribed to 'The Fanal,' and was a fer- 
vent political co-religionist of ours. He 
received us with open arms, and con- 
gratulated us and wished us joy; he was 
delighted at having the two editors in 
his house, and Rivet whispered to me: 
*I think we shall be able to arrange the 
matter of that pig cf a Morin for him.' 

"The niece had left the room, and I 
introduced the delicate subject. I waved 
the specter of scandal before his eyes; 
I accentuated the inevitable deprecia- 
tion which the young lady would suffei 
jf such an affair got known, for no- 
body would believe in a simple kiss. 
The good man seemed undecided, but 
could not make up his mind about any- 
thing without his wife, who would not 
be in until late that evening. But sud- 
denly he uttered an exclamation of 
triumph: 'Look here, I have an excel- 
lent idea. I will keep you here to dine 
and sleep, and when my wife comes 
home, I hope we shall be able to arrange 
matters.' 

"Rivet resisted at first, but the wish 
to extricate that pig of a Morin decided 
him, and we accepted the invitation. So 
the uncle got up radiant, called his 



THAT PIG OF A MOKIN 



175 



oiece, and proposed that we should take 
a stroll in ins grounds, saying: 'We will 
leave serious maiters until the morn- 
ing.' Rivet and he began to talk poli- 
tics, while I soon found myself lagging 
a littk behind with the girl, v/ho was 
really cnarmingi charming! and with 
the greatest precauaon I began to speak 
to her about her adventure, and try to 
make her my ally. She did not, how- 
ever, appear the least confused, and 
listened to me Lke a person who was 
enjoying the whole thing very much. 

"I said to her: * J List think. Mademoi- 
selle, how unpleasant it will be for you. 
You will have to appear in court, to 
encounter malicious looks, to speak be- 
fore everybody, and to recount that un- 
fortunate occurrence in the railway-car- 
riage, in pubic. Do you not think, be- 
tween ourselves, that it would have been 
much better for you to have put that 
dirty scoundrel back ihto his place with- 
out calling for assistance, and merely to 
have changed your carriage?' She be- 
gan to laugh, and replied: 'What you 
say is quite true! but what could I do? 
I was frightened, and when one is 
frightened, ore does not stop to reason 
with oneself. As soon as I realized the 
situation, I was very sorry that I had 
called out, but then it was too late. 
You must also remember that the idiot 
threw himself upon me like a madman, 
without saying a word and looking like 
a lunatic. I did not even know what 
he wanted of me.' 

"She looked me full in the face, with- 
out beirg ne-vous or intimidated, and I 
said to myself: 'She is a funny sort of 
girl, thst: I can quite see how that pig 
Morin came to make a mistake.' and I 
went on, jokingly: *Come, Mademoi- 



selle, confess that he was excusable, for 
after all, a man cannot hud himself 
opposite such a pretty girl as you are, 
without feeling a legitimate desire to 
kiss her.' 

"She laughed more than ever, and 
showed her teeth, and said: 'Between 
the desire and the act, Monsieur, there 
is room for respect.' It was a funny 
expression to use, although it was not 
very clear, and I asked abruptly: 'Well 
now, supposing I were to kiss you now 
what would you do?' She stopped tc 
look at me from head to foot, and theD 
said calmly: 'Oh! you? That is quite 
another matter.* 

'T knew perfectly well, by Jove, that 
it was not the same thing at all, as 
everybody in the neighborhood called 
me 'Handsome Labarbe.' I was thirty 
years old in those days, but I asked her: 
'And why, pray?' 

"She shrugged her shoulders, and re- 
plied: 'Well, because you are not so 
stupid as he is.' And then she added, 
looking at me slyly: 'Nor so ugly, 
cither.' 

"Before she could make a movement 
to avoid me, I had implanted a hearty 
kiss on her cheek. She sprang aside, but 
it was too late, and then she said : 'Well, 
you are not very bashful, either! But 
don't do that sort of thing again.' 

"I put on a humble look and said 
in a low voice: 'Oh! Mademoiselle, as 
for me, if I long for one thing more 
than another, it is to be summoned be- 
fore a magistrate on the same charge 
as Morin.' 

" 'Why?' she asked. 

"Looking steadily at her, I replied: 
'Because you are one of the most beau- 
tiful creatures living; because it would 



176 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



be an honor and a glory for me to have 
offered you violence, and because people 
would have said, after seeing you: 
*'Well, Labarbe has richly deserved what 
he has got, but he is a lucky fellow, all 
the same." ' 

*'She began to laugh heartily again, 
and said: 'How funny you are!' And she 
had not finished the word funny, be- 
fore I had her in my arms and was kiss- 
ing her ardently wherever I could find 
a place, on her forehead, on her eyes, 
on her lips occasionally, on her cheeks, 
in fact, all over her head, some part of 
which she was obliged to leave ex- 
posed, in spite of herself, in order to 
defend the others. At last she man- 
aged to release herself, blushing and 
angry. 'You are very unmannerly, Mon- 
sieur,' she said, 'and I am sorry I 
listened to you.' 

"I took her hand in some confusion, 
and stammered out: 'I beg your par- 
don, Mademoiselle. I have offended 
you; I have acted like a brute! Do not 
be angry with me for what I have done. 
If you knew — ' 

"I vainly sought for some excuse, and 
in a few moments she said: 'There is 
nothing for me to know. Monsieur.' But 
I had found something to say, and I 
cried: 'Mademoiselle, I love you!' 

"She was really surprised, and raised 
her eyes to look at me, and I went on: 
*Yes, Mademoiselle, and pray listen to 
me. I do not know Morin, and I do 
not care anything about him. It does 
not matter to me the least if he is com- 
mitted for trial and locked up mean- 
while. I saw you here last year, and I 
was so taken with you, that the thought 
of you has never left me since, and it 
does not matter to me whether you be- 



lieve me or not. I thought you adora* 
ble, and the remembrance of you took 
such a hold on me that I longed to see 
you again, and so I made use of that 
fool Morin as a pretext, and here I am. 
Circumstances have made me exceed the 
due limits of respect, and I can only beg 
you to pardon me.' 

"She read the truth in my looks, and 
was ready to smile again; then she mur- 
mured: 'You humbug!' But I raised 
my hand, and said in a sincere voice 
(and I really believe that I was sin- 
cere) : 'I swear to you that I am speak- 
ing the truth.' She replied quite sim- 
ply: 'Really?' 

"We were alone, quite alone, as Rivet 
and her uncle had disappeared in a 
side walk, and I made her a real declara- 
tion of love, while I squeezed and kissed 
her hands, and she listened to it as to 
something new and agreeable, without 
exactly knowing how much of it she was 
to believe, while in the end I felt 
agitated, and at last really myself be- 
lieved what I said. I was pale, anxious, 
and trembling, and I gently put my arm 
round her waist, and spoke to her 
softly, whispering into the little curls 
over her ears. She seemed dead, so 
absorbed in thought was she. 

"Then her hand touched mine, and 
she pressed it, and I gently circled her 
waist with a trembling, and gradually a 
firmer, grasp. She did not move now, 
and I touched her cheeks with my lips, 
and suddenly, without seeking them 
mine met hers. It was a long, long kiss, 
and it would have lasted longer still, if 
I had not heard a Hum! Hum! just be- 
hind me. She made her escape through 
the bushes, and I turning round saw 
Rivet coming toward me, and walking in 



THAT PIG OF A MORIN 



177 



the middle of the path. He said with- 
out even smiling: *So that is the way 
in which you settle the affair of that 
pig Morin.' 

"I replied, conceitedly: 'One does 
what one can, my dear fellow. But what 
about the uncle? How have you got on 
with him? I will answer for the niece.' 

" 'I have not been so fortunate with 
him,' he replied. Whereupon I took his 
arm, and we went indoors. , 

ni. 

"Dinner made me lose my head alto- 
gether. I sat beside her, and my hand 
continually met hers under the table- 
cloth, my foot touched hers, and our 
looks encountered each other. 

"After dinner we took a walk by 
moonlight, and I whispered all the ten- 
der things I could think of to her. I 
held her close to me, kissed her every 
moment, moistening my lips against 
hers, while her uncle and Rivet were 
disputing as they walked in front of us. 
We went in, and soon a messenger 
brought a telegram from her aunt, say- 
ing that she would return by the first 
train the next morning, at seven o'clock. 

" 'Very well, Henriette,' her uncle 
said, 'go and phow the gentlemen their 
rooms.' She showed Rivet his first, and 
he whispered to me: 'There was no 
danger of her taking us into yours first.* 
Then she took me to my room, and as 
soon as she was alone with me, I took 
her in my arms again and tried to ex- 
cite her senses and overcome her re- 
sistance, but when she felt that she was 
near succumbing, she escaped out of the 
room, and I got between the sheets, 
very much put out and excited and feel- 
int^ rather foolUb ^^r T knew that I 



should not sleep much. I was wonder- 
ing how I could have committed such 
a mistake, when there was a gentle 
knock 3t my door, and on my asking 
who was there, a low voice replied: 'I.' 

"I dressed myself quickly and opened 
the door, and she came in: 'I forgot to 
ask you what you take in the morning,* 
she said, 'chocolate, tea, or coffee?' I 
put my arms around her impetuously 
and said, devouring her with kisses: *I 
will take — I will take — ' But she freed 
herself from my arms, blew out my can- 
dle, and disappeared, and left me alone 
in the dark, furious, trying to find some 
matches and not able to do so. At last 
I got some and I went into the passage, 
feeling half mad, with my candlestick in 
my hand. 

"What was I going to do? I did not 
stop to reason, I only wanted to find 
her, and I would. I went a few steps 
without reflecting, but then I suddenly 
thought to myself: 'Suppose I should go 
into the uncle's room, what should I 
say?' And I stood still, with my head 
a void, and my heart beating. 

"But in a few moments, I thought of 
an answer: 'Of course, I shall say thai 
I was looking for Rivet's room, to speak 
to him about an important matter,' and 
I began to inspect all the doors, trymg 
to find hers, and at last I took hold of 
a handle at a venture, turned it and 
went in. There was Henriette, sitting 
on her bed and looking at me in tears. 
So I gently turned the key, and going up 
to her on tiptoe, I said: 'I forgot to 
ask you for something to read, Made- 
moiselle.' I will not tell you the book 
I read, but it is the most wonderful of 
romances, the most divine of poems. 
And when once I had turned the first 



178 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



page, she iet me turn over as many 
leaves as 1 liked, and I got through so 
many chapters that our candles were 
quite bu.ned out. 

'Then, after thanking her, I was 
stealthily returning to my room, when 
a rough hand seized me, and a voice — 
it was Rivet's — whispered in my ear: 
'So you have not yet quite settled that 
affair of Morin's?' 

"At seven o'clock the next morning, 
she herself brought me a cup of 
chocolate. I have never drunk any- 
thing like it, soft, velvety, p2rfumed, 
delicious. I could scarcely take away 
my lips from the cup, and she had 
hardly left the room when Rivet came 
in. He seemed nervous and irritable 
like a man who had not slept, and he 
said to me crossly: 'If you go on like 
this, you will e..d by spoiling the affair 
of that pig of a Morin!' 

"At eight o'clock the aunt arrived. 
Our discussion was very short, for they 
witbjrew their complaint, and I left five 
hundred francs for the poor of the town. 
They wanted to keep us for the day, 
and they arranged an excursion to go 
and see some ruins. Henriette made 
signs to me to stay, behind her uncle's 
back, and I accepted, but Rivet was 
determined to go, and though I took 
him aside, ard beg:;ed and prayed him 
to do this fcr me he appeared quite 
exasperated and kept saying to me: *I 
have had enough of that pig of a 
Morin's affair, do you hear?* 

"Of course I was obliged to go also, 
and it was one of the hardest moments 
of my life. I could have gone on 
arranging that business as long as I 
lived, and when we were in the railway 
carriage, after shaking hands with her 



in silence, I said to Rivet: 'You are a 
mere brute!' And he replied: 'My 
dear fellow, you were beginning to ex« 
cite me confoundedly.' 

"On getting to the 'Fanal' office, I 
saw a crowd waiting for us, and as soon 
as they saw us, they all exclaimed: 
*Well, have you settled the affair of 
that pig of a Morin?' All La Rochelle 
was excited about it, and Ri\'et, who 
had<got over his ill humor on the jour- 
ney, had great difficulty in keeping him- 
self from laughing as he said: 'Yes, 
we have managed it, thanks to Labarbe.* 
And we went to Morin's. 

"He was sitting in an easy-chair, with 
mustard plasters on his legs, and cold 
bandages on his head, nearly dead with 
misery. He was coughing with the short 
cough of a dying man, without anyone 
knowing how he had caught it, and his 
wife seemed like a tigress ready to eat 
him. As soon as he saw us he trembled 
violently as to make his hands and knees 
shake, so I said to him immediately: 
'It is all settled, you dirty scamp, but 
don't do such a thing again.* 

*'He got up choking, took my hands 
and kissed them as if they had belonged 
to a prince, cried, nearly fainted, em- 
braced Rivet, and even kissed Madame 
Morin, who gave him such a push as to 
send him staggering back into his chair. 
But he never got over Lhe blow; his 
mind h::d been too much upset. In all 
the country round, moreover, he was 
called nothing but that pig of a Morin, 
and the ep'thet went through him like a 
sword-thrust every time he heard it. 
When a street-boy called after him; 
Tig!' he turned his head instinctively. 
His f-iends also overwhelmed him with 
horrible jokes, and wseH to chaff him, 



THAT PIG OF A MORIN 



179 



whenever they were eating ham, by say- 
ing: It's a bit of you!' He died two 
years later. 

"As for myself, when I was a candi- 
date for the Chamber of Deputies in 
1875, I called on the new notary at 
Foncerre, Monsieur Belloncle, to solicit 
his vote, and a tall, handsome, and evi- 
dently wealthy lady received me. 'You 
do not know me again?' she said. 

"I stammered out: *But — ^no, Ma- 
dame.' 

"•Henriette Bonne!?' 

"'Ah!' And I felt myself turning 
pale, while she seemed perfectly at her 
ease, and looked at me with a smile. 



"As soon as she had left me alone 
with her husband, he took both my 
hands, and squeezing them as if he 
meant to crush them, he said: *I have 
been intending to go and see you for a 
long time, my dear sir, for my wife has 
very often talked to me about you. I 
know under what painful circumstances 
you made her acquaintance, and I know 
also how perfectly you behaved, how 
lull of delicacy, tact, and devotion you 
snowed yourself in t^e affair — ' He 
hesitated, and then said in a lower tone, 
as if he had been saying sonje.hinff low 
and coarse: 'In the affair of th-if p'| 
of a Morin.' " 






VOLUME II 



Mm Harriet 



There were seven of us in a four-in- 
hand, four womt;n and three men, one 
of whom was on the box seat beside the 
coachman. We were following, at a 
foot pace, the broad highway which ser- 
pentines along the coast. 

Setting out from Etretat at break of 
day, in order to visit the ruins of Tan- 
carville, we were still asleep, chilled by 
the fresh air of the morning. The wo- 
men, especially, who were but little 
accustomed to these early excursions, 
let their eyelids fall and rise every mo- 
ment, nodding their heads or yawning, 
quite insensible to the glory of the 
dawn. 

It was autumn. On both sides of the 
road the bare fields stretched out, yel- 
lowed by the corn and wheat stubble 
which covered the soil like a bristling 
growth of beard. The spongy earth 
seemed to smoke. Larks were singing 
high up in the air, while other birds 
piped in the bushes. 

At length the sun rose in front of us, 
a bright red en the plane of the hori- 
zon; and as it ascended, growing clearer 
from minute to minute, the country 
seemed to awake, to smile, to shake and 
stretch itself, like a young girl who is 
leaving her bed in her white airy 
chemise. The Count d'Etraille, who 
was seated on the box, cried: 

"Look! look! a hare!" and he pointed 
toward the left, indicating a piece of 
hedge. The leveret threaded its way 
along, almost concealed by the field, 
only its large ears visible Then it 



swerved across a deep rut, stopped^ 
agam pursued its easy cou.se, changed 
its direction, stopped anew, disturbed, 
spying out every danger, and undecided 
as to the route it should take. Suddenly 
it began to run, with 'reat bounds from 
its hind legs, disappearing finally in a 
large patch of beet-root. All the men 
had woke up to watch the course of the 
beast. 

Rene Lemanoir then exclaimed: 

"We are not at all gallant this morn- 
ing," and looking at 'ns neighbor, the 
little Baroness of Sterennes, who was 
struggling with drowsiness, he said to hei 
in a subdued voice: "You are thinking 
of your husband. Baroness. Reassure 
yourself; he will not return before 
Saturday, so you have still four days." 

She responded to him with a sleepy 
smile : 

"How rude you are." Then, shaking 
off her torpor, she added: "Now, let 
somebody say something that will make 
us all laugh. You, Monsieur Chenal, 
who have the reputation of possessing 
a larger fortune than the Duke of 
Richelieu, tell us a love story in which 
you have been mixed up, anything you 
like." 

Leon Chenal, an old painter, who had 
once been very handsome, very strong, 
who was very proud of his physique and 
very amiable, took his long white beard 
in his hand and smiled; then, after a 
few moments' reflection, he became 
suddenly grave. 

"Ladies, it will not be an amusing 



181 



182 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



tale; for 1 am going to relate to you 
the most lamentable love affair of my 
life, and I sincerely hope that none of 
my friends has ever passed through a 
similar experience. 



"At that time I was twenty-five years 
old, and was making daubs along the 
coast of Normandy. I call 'making 
daubs' that wandering about, with a bag 
on one's back, from mountain to moun- 
tain, under the pretext of studying and 
of sketching nature. I know nothing 
more enjoyable than that happy-go- 
lucky wandering life, in which you are 
perfectly free, without shackles of any 
kind, without care, without pre-occu- 
pation, without thought even of to-mor- 
row. You go in any direction you 
please, without any guide save your 
fancy, without any counselor save your 
eyes. You pull up, because a running 
brook seduces you, or because you are 
attracted, in front of an inn, by the 
smell of potatoes frying. Sometimes it 
is the perfume of clematis which decides 
you in your choice, or the naive glance 
of the servant at an inn. Do not 
despise me for my affection for these 
rustics. These girls have soul as well 
as feeling, not to mention firm cheeks 
and fresh lips; while their hearty and 
willing kisses have the flavor of wild 
fruit. Love always has its price, come 
whence it may. A heart that beats 
when you make your appearance, an 
e.ve that weeps when you go away, these 
are tnings so rare, so sweet, so precious, 
that they must never be despised. 

"I have had rendezvous in ditches in 
which cattle repose, and in barns amon^ 



the straw, still steaming from the heat 
of the day. I have recollections of 
canvas spread on rude and creaky 
benches, and of hearty, fresh, free 
kisses, more delicate, free from affecta- 
tion, and sincere than the subtle attrac- 
tions of charming and distinguished wo- 
men. 

''But what you love most amid all 
these varied adventures are the country, 
the woods, the risings of the sun, the 
twilight, the light of the moon. For the 
painter these are honeymoon trips with 
Nature. You are alone with her in that 
long and tranquil rendezvous. You go 
to bed in the fields amid marguerites 
and wild poppies, and, with eyes wide 
open, you watch the going down of the 
sun, and descry in the distance the little 
village, with its pointed clock-tower, 
which sounds the hour of midnight. 

"You sit down by the side of a 
spring which gushes out from the foot 
of an oak, amid a covering of fragile 
herbs, growing and redolent of life. 
You go down on your knees, bend for* 
ward, and drink the cold and pellucid 
water, wetting your mustache and nose; 
you drink it with a physical pleasure, as 
though you were kissing the spring, lip 
to lip. Sometimes, when you encounter 
a deep hole, along the course of these 
tiny brooks, you plunge into it, quite 
naked, and on your skin, from head to 
foot, like an icy and delicious caress, 
you feel the lovely and gentle quivering 
of the current. 

*'You are gay on the hills, melan- 
choly on the verge of pools, exalted 
when the sun is crowned in an ocean of 
blood-red shadows^ and when it casts 
on the rivers its red reflection. And at 
night, under the moon, as it passes 



AilSS HARRIET 



183 



the vault of iieaven, you think of 
things, singular things, which would 
never have occurred to your mind un- 
der the brilliant light of day. 

'"So, in wandering through the same 
country we are in this year, I came to 
the little village cf Benouville, on the 
Falaise, between Yport and Etretat. I 
came from Fecamp, following the coast, 
a high coast, perpendicular as a wall, 
with projecting and rugged rocks falling 
sheer down into the sea. I had walked 
since the morning on the close clipped 
grass, as smooth and as yielding as a 
carpet. Singing lustily, I walked with 
long strides, looking sometimes at the 
slow and lazy flight of a gull, with its 
short, white wings, sailing in the blue 
heavens, sometimes at the green sea, or 
at the brown sails of a fishing bark. In 
short, I had passed a happy day, a day 
of listlessness and of liberty. 

*I was shown a little farmhouse, 
where travelers were put up, a kind of 
inn, kept by a peasant, which stood in 
the center of a Norman court, sur- 
rounded by a double row of beeches. 

"Quitting the Falaise, I gained the 
hamlet, which was hemmed in by trees, 
and I presented myself at the house of 
Mother Lecacheur. 

"She was an old, wrinkled, and 
austere rustic, who always seemed to 
yield to the pressure of new customs 
with a kind of contempt. 

"It was the month of May: the 
spreading apple-trees covered the court 
with a whirling shower of blossoms 
which rained unceasingly both upon 
people and upon the grass. 

"I said: 

*' 'Weil, Madame Lecacheur. have 
yoii a room for me?* 



"Astonished to fmd that I knew her 
name, she answered: 

" 'That depends ; everything is let ; 
but, all the same, there will be no harm 
in looking.' 

"In five minutes we were in perfect 
accord, and I deposited my bag upon 
the bare floor of a rustic room, fur- 
nished with a bed, two chairs, a table, 
and a washstand. The room opened into 
the large and smoky kitchen, where 
the lodgers took their meals with the 
people of the farm and with the farmer 
himself, v/ho was a widower. 

"I washed my hands, after which I 
went out. The old woman was fricas- 
seeing a chicken for dinner in a large 
fireplace, in which hung the stew-pot, 
black with smoke. 

" 'You have travelers, then, at the 
present time?' said I to her. 

"She answered in an offended tone of 



voice : 



I have a lady, an English lady, who 
has attained to years of maturity. She 
is occupying my other room.' 

"By means of an extra five sous a 
day, I obtained the privilege of dining 
out in the court when the weather was 
fine. 

"My cover was then placed in front 
of the door, and I commenced to gnaw 
with hunger the lean members of the 
Normandy chicken, to drink the clear 
cider, and to munch the hunk of white 
bread, w^hich, though four days old, was 
excellent. 

"Suddenly, the wooden barrier which 
opened on to the highway was opened, 
and a strange person directed her steps 
toward the house. She was very slender, 
very tall, enveloped in a Scotch shawl 
with red borders. You would have be* 



1 84 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



lieved that she had no arms, if you had 
not seen a long hand appear just above 
the hjps, holaing a wnite tounst um- 
brella. The lace of a mummy, sur- 
rounded With sausage rolls of plaited 
gray hair, which bounded at every step 
she took, made me think, I know not 
why, of a sour herring adorned with 
curling papers. Lowering her eyes, she 
passed quickly in front of me, and en- 
*.ered the bouse. 

*'This singular apparition made me 
curious. She undoubtedly was my 
neighbor, the aged English lady of 
whom our hostc^^s had spoken. 

"I did not see her again that day. 
The next day, when I had begun to 
paint at the end of that beautiful valley, 
which you know extends as far as 
Etretat, lifting my eyes suddenly, I per- 
ceived something singularly attired 
standing on the crest of the declivity; 
it looked Khe a pole decked out with 
flags. It was she. On seeing me, she 
suddenly disappeared. I re-entered the 
house at midday for lunch, and took my 
seat at the common table, so as to make 
the acquaintance of this old and 
original creature. But she did not 
respond to my polite advances, was in- 
sensible even to my little attentions. I 
poured water out for her with great 
alacrity, I passed her the dishes with 
great eagerness. A slight, almost im- 
perceptible movement of the head, and 
an English word, murmured so low that 
I did not understand it, v/ere her only 
acknowledgments. 

"I ceased occupying myself with her, 
although she had disturbed my thoughts. 
At the end of three days, I knew as 
much about her as did Madame 
Lecacheur hersc-* 



**She was called Miss Harriet. Seek- 
ing out a secluded village m which to 
pass ihe summer, she haa been attracted 
to Benouviile, some six months before, 
and did not seem disposed to quit it. 
She never spoke at table, ate rapidly, 
reading all the while a smail book, 
treating of some Protestant propaganda. 
She gave a copy of it to everybody. 
The cure himself had received no less 
than four copies, at the hands of an 
urchin to whom she had paid two sous' 
commission. She said sometimes to our 
hostess, abruptly, without preparing her 
in the least for the declaration: 

" *I love the Saviour more than all; 
I worship him in all creation; I adore 
him in all nature; I carry him always 
in my heart.' 

And she would immediately present 
the old woman with one of her 
brochures which were destined to con- 
vert the universe. 

*Tn the village she was not liked. In 
fact, the schoolmaster had declared that 
rhe was an atheist, and that a sort of 
reproach attached to her. The cure, 
v/ho had been consulted by Madame 
Lecacheur, responded: 

" 'She is a heretic, but God does not 
wish the death of the sinner, and I be- 
lieve her to be a person of pure morals.' 

"These words, 'atheist,' 'heretic,' 
words which no one can precisely define, 
threw doubts into some minds. It was 
asserted, however, that this English- 
woman was rich, and that she had 
passed her life in traveling through 
every country in the world, because hei 
family had thrown her off. Why hacJ 
her family thrown her off? Because ci 
her natural impiety? 

"She was. in fact, one of those peo- 



MISS HARRIET 



183 



pie of exalted principles, one of those 
opinionated puritans ol whom England 
produces so many, one of those good 
and insupportable old women who 
haunt the tables d'hote of every hotel 
in Europe, who spoil Italy, poison 
Switzerland, render the charming cities 
of the Mediterranean uninhabitable, 
carry everywhere their fantastic manias, 
their petrified vestal manners, their in- 
describable toilettes, and a certain odor 
of indiarubber, which makes one believe 
that at night they slip themselves into 
a case of that material. When I meet 
one of these people in a hotel, I act like 
birds which see a manik'n m a field. 

"This woman, however, appeared so 
singular that she did not displease me. 

"Madame Lecacheur, hostile by in- 
stinct to everything that was not rustic, 
felt in her narrow soul a kind of hatred 
for the ecstatic extravagances of the old 
girl. She had found a phrase by which 
to describe her, I know not how, but a 
phrase assuredly contemptuous, which 
had sprung to her lips, invented prob- 
ably by some confused and mysterious 
travail of soul. She said: 'That wo- 
man is a demoniac' This phrase as 
uttered by that austere and sentimental 
creature, seemed to me irresistibly 
comic. I, myself, never called her now 
anything else but 'the demoniac,' feeling 
a singular pleasure in pronouncing this 
word on seeing her. 

"I would ask Mother Lecacheur: 
'Well, what is our demoniac about to- 
day?' To which my rustic friend would 
respond, with an air of having been 
scandalized: 

" 'What do you think, sir? She has 
picked up a toad which has had its leg 
battered and carried it to her room» 



and has put it in her washstand, and 
dressed it up hke a man. If ihat is not 
profanation, I should like to know what 
is!' 

"On another occasion, when walking 
along the Falaise, she had bought a 
large fish which had just been caught, 
simply to throw it back into the sea 
again. The sailor, from whom she had 
bought it, though paid handsomely, was 
greatly provoked at this act — more ex- 
asperated, indeed, than if she had put 
her hand into his pocket and taken his 
money. For a whole month he could 
not speak of the circumstance without 
getting in'cO a fury and denouncing it as 
an outrage. Oh yes! She was indeed a 
demoniac, this Miss Harriet, and 
Mother Lecacheur must have had an in- 
spiration of genius in thus christening 
her. 

"The stable-boy, who was called 
Sapeur, because he had served in Africa 
in his youth, entertained other aver- 
sions. He said, with a roguish air: 
'She is an old hag who has lived her 
days.' If the poor woman had but 
knov^n ! 

"Little kind-hearted Celeste did not 
wait upon her willingly, out I was never 
able to understand why. Probably her 
cnly reason was that she was a stranger, 
of another race, of a different tongue, 
and of another religion. She was in 
good truth a demoniac! 

"She passed her time wandering 
about the country, adorinj? and search- 
ing for God in nature. I found her one 
evening on her knees in a cluster of 
bushes. Having discovered something 
red through the leaves, I brushed aside 
the branches, and Miss Harriet at once 
rose to her feet confused at havina 



186 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



been found thus, looking at me with 
eyes as terrible as those of a wild cat 
surprised in open day. 

"Sometimes, when I was working 
among the rocks, I would suddenly des- 
cry her on the banks of the Falaise 
standing like a semaphore signal. She 
gazed passionately at the vast sea, glit- 
tering in the sunlight, and the boundless 
.sky empurpled with fire. Sometimes I 
would distinguish her at the bottom of 
an alley, walking quickly, with her 
elastic English step; and I would go 
toward her, attracted by I know not 
what, simply to see her illuminated 
visage, her dried-up features, which 
seemed to glow with an ineffable, inward, 
and profound happiness. 

"Often I would encounter her in the 
comer of a field sitting on the grass, un- 
der the shadow of an apple-tree, with 
her little Bible lying open on her knee, 
while she looked meditatively into the 
distance. 

"I could no longer tear myself away 
from that quiet country neighborhood, 
bound to it as I was by a thousand links 
of love for its soft and sweeping land- 
scapes. At this farm I was out of the 
world, far removed from everything, 
but in close proximity to the soil, the 
good, healthy, beautiful green soil. And, 
must I avow it, there was something 
besides curiosity which retained me at 
the residence of Mother Lecacheur. I 
wished to become acquainted a little 
with this strange Miss Harriet, and to 
learn what passes in the solitary souls 
of those wandering old, English dames. 

11. 

"We became acquainted in a rather 
singular manner. I had just finished a 



study which appeared to me to display 
genius and power; as it must have, 
since it was sold for ten thousand 
francs, fifteen years later. It was as 
simple, however, as that two and two 
make four, and had nothing to do with 
academic rules. The whole of the right 
side of my canvas represented a rock, 
an enormous rock, covered with sea- 
wrack, brown, yellow, and red, across 
which the sun poured like a stream of 
oil. The light, without which one could 
see the stars concealed in the back- 
ground, fell upon the stone, and gilded 
it as if with fire. That was all. A 
first stupid attempt at dealing with 
light, with burning rays, with the 
sublime. 

"On the left was the sea, not the blue 
sea, the slate-colored sea, but a sea of 
jade, as greenish, milky, and thick as 
the overcast sky. 

"I was so pleased with my work that 
I danced from sheer delight as I carried 
it back to the inn. I wished that the 
whole world could have seen it at one 
and the same moment. I can remem- 
ber that I showed it to a cow which 
was browsing by the wayside, exclaim- 
ing, at the same time: 'Look at that, 
my old beauty; you will not often see 
its like again.* 

"When I had reached the front of 
the house, I immediately called out to 
Mother Lecacheur, sTiouting with all 
my might: 

" 'Ohe ! Ohe ! my mistress, come here 
and look at this.' 

"The rustic advanced and looked at 
my work with stupid eyes, which dis- 
tinguished nothing, and did not even 
recognize whether the picture was the 
representation of an ox or a house. 



MISS HARRIET 



187 



"Miss Harriet came into the house, 
and passed in rear of me just at the 
moment when, holding out my canvas 
at arm's length, I was exhibiting it to 
the female innkeeper. The 'demoniac' 
could not help but see it, for I took care 
to exhibit the thing in such a way that 
it could not escape her notice. She 
stopped abruptly and stood motionless, 
stupefied. It was her rock which was 
depicted, the one which she usually 
climbed to dream away her time undis- 
turbed. 

"She uttered a British 'Oh/ which 
was at once so accentuated and so 
flattering, that I turned round to her 
smiling, and said: 

'* 'This is my last work, Mademoi- 
selle.' 

"She murmured ecstatically, comi- 
cally, and tenderly: 

" 'Oh ! Monsieur, you must under- 
stand what it is to have a palpitation.' 

"I colored up, of course, and was 
more excited by that compliment than 
if it had come from a queen. I was 
seduced, conquered, vanquished. I 
could have embraced her — upon my 
honor. 

"I took my seat at the table beside 
her, as I had always done. For the 
first time, she spoke, drawling out in a 
loud voice: 

" 'Oh ! I love nature so much.' 

"I offered her some bread, some 
water, some wine. She now accepted 
these with the vacant smile of a 
mummy. I began to converse with her 
about the scenery. 

"After the meal, we rose from the 
table together and walked leisurely 
across the court; then, attracted by the 
fiery glow which the settip?: sun cast 



over the surface of the sea, I opened 
the outside gate which faced in the 
direction of the Falaise, and we walked 
on side by side, as satisfied as any two 
persons could be who have just learned 
to understand and penetrate each 
other's motives and feelings. 

"It was a misty, relaxing evening, one 
of those enjoyable evenings which im- 
part happiness to mind and body alike. 
All is joy, all is charm. The luscious 
and balmy air, loaded with the per- 
fumes of herbs, with the perfumes of 
grass-wrack, with the odor of the wild 
flowers, caresses the soul with a pene- 
trating sweetness. We were going to 
the brink of the abyss which overlooked 
the vast sea and rolled past us at the 
distance of less than a hundred meters. 

"We drunk with open mouth and ex- 
panded chest, that fresh breeze from the 
ocean which glides slowly over the skin, 
salted as it is by long contact with 
the waves. 

"Wrapped up in her square shawl, in- 
spired by the balmy air and with teeth 
firmly set, the English-woman gazed 
fixedly at the great sun-ball, as it de- 
scended toward the sea. Soon its rim 
touched the waters, just in rear of a 
ship which had appeared on the hori- 
zon, until, by degrees, it was swallowed 
up by the ocean. We watched it 
plunge, diminish, and finally disappear. 

"Miss Harriet contemplated with 
passionate regard the last glimmer of 
the flaming orb of day. 

"She muttered: 'Oh! love — ^I love 
— ' I saw a tear start in her eye. She 
continued: T wish I were a little bird, 
so that I could mount up into the firma- 
ment.' 

"She remained standing as I had 



188 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



often before seen her, perched on the 
river bank, her face as red as her flam- 
ing shawl. I should have liked lo have 
sketched her in my album. It would 
have been an ecstatic caricature. I 
turned my face away from her so as 
to be able to laugh. 

*'I then spoke to her of painting, as 
I would have done to a fellow-artist, 
ushig the technical terms common 
among the devotees of the profession. 
She listened attentively to me, eagerly 
seeking to divine the sense of the ob- 
scure words, so as to penetrate my 
thoughts. From time to time, she would 
vixclaim: *0h! I understand, I under- 
stand. This is vex-y interestmg.' We 
returned home. 

"The next day, on seeing me, she 
approached me eagerly, holding out her 
hand; and we became firm friends im- 
mediately. 

"She was a brave creature, with an 
clastic sort of a soul, which became en- 
thusiast): at a bound. She lacked 
equilibrium, like all women who are 
spinsters at the age of fifty. She 
seemed to be pickled in vinegary inno- 
cence, though her heart still retained 
something of youth and cf girlish effer- 
vescence. She loved both nature and 
animals with a fervent ardor, a love 
like old w'ne, nellow through age, with 
a sensual love that she had never be- 
stowed on men. 

"One thing is certain: a mare roam- 
ing in a meadow with a foal at .'ts side, 
a bird's nest full of young ones, squeak- 
ing, wiih their open mouths and enor- 
mous heads, made her quiver with the 
most violent emotion. 

"Poor solitary beings! Sad wan- 
derers from 'cH" d*hcte to table 



d'hote, poor beings, ridiculous and la- 
mentable, I love you ever since I be- 
came acquainted with Miss Harriet! 

"I soon discovered that she had 
something she would like to tell me, 
but dared not, and I was amused at hei 
timidity. When I started out in the 
morning with my box on my back, she 
v/ould accompany me as lar as the end 
of the village, silent, but evidently 
struggling inwardly to fmd words with 
which to begin a conversation. Then 
rhe would leavo me abruptly, and, with 
jaunty step, walk away quickly. 

"One day, however, sh3 plucked up 
courage: 

" 'I would like to seo how you paint 
pictures? Will you show me? I have 
been very curious.' 

"And she colored up as though she 
had given utterance to words extremely 
audacious. 

"I conducted her to the bottom of 
the Petit-Val, whero I liad commenced 
a large picture. 

"She remained standing near me, fol- 
lowing all my gestures with concen- 
trated attention. Then, suddenly, fear- 
ing, perhaps, that she v/as disturbing 
ne, she said to me: *Thank you,' and 
v/alked away. 

But in a short time she became more 
familiar, and accompanied me every 
day, her countenance exhibiting visible 
pleasure. She carried her folding stool 
under her arm, would not consent to 
my carrying it, and she sat always by 
my side. She would remain there for 
hours immovable and mute, following 
with her eye the point of my brush in 
its every movement. Wh^n I would 
obtain, by a laree splatch of color 
spread on with a knife, a striking and 



MISS HARRIET 



189 



unexpected effect, she would, in spite of 
herself, give vent to a half-suppressed 
*0h!' of astonishment, of joy, of ad- 
miration. She had the most tender 
respect for my canvases, an almost 
religious respect for that human repro- 
duction of a part of nature's work di- 
vine. IMy studies appeared to her to be 
pictures of sanctity, and sometimes she 
spoke to me of God, with the idea of 
converlii-g me. 

*'0h! lie was a queer good-natured 
being, this GoJ of hers. He was a sort 
of village philosopher without any great 
resources, and without great power; for 
she always figured him to herself as a 
being quivering over injustices com- 
mitted under his eyes, and helpless to 
prevent them. 

"She was, however, on excellent 
terms wiLh him, affecting even to be the 
confidant cf his secrets and of his 
whims. She said: 

" *God wills, or God does not will,* 
just like a sergeant announcing to a 
recruit: 'The cclonel has commanded.* 

"At the bottom of her heart she de- 
plored Try ignorance of the intention 
of the Eternal, which she strove, nay, 
felt herself compelled, to impart to 
.me. 

"Almost every day, I found in my 
pockets, in my hat when I lifted it from 
the ground, in my box of colors, in my 
polished shoes, standing in the mornings 
in front of my door, those little pious 
brochures, which she, no doubt, received 
directly from Paradise. 

**I treated her as one would an old 
friend, with unaffected cordiality. But 
I soon perceived that she hid changed 
aomewhat in her manner; but, for a 
w^hile, I paid little attention to it. 



"When I walked about, whether tc 
the bottom of the valley, or through 
some country lanes, 1 w^ould see her 
suddenly appear, as though she were 
returning from a lipid walk. She 
would then sit down abruptly, out of 
breath, as though she had been running 
or overcome by some profound emo- 
tion. Her face would be red, tnat 
English red whic^ is denied to the peo- 
ple of all other countries; then, with- 
out any reason, she would grow pale, 
become the ccLir cf the ground, and 
seem ready to Jaint away. Gradually, 
however, I would see her regain her 
ordinary color, whereupon she would 
begin to speak. 

"Then, without warning, she would 
break off in the middle of a sentence, 
cpring up from hsr seat, and march off 
ro rapidly and so strongly, that it 
would, sometimes, put me to my wits' 
end to try and discover whether I had 
done or said an>thing to displease or 
offend her. 

*'I finally came :o the conclusion that 
this arose from her early habits and 
training, somewhat modified, no doubt 
in honor of me, s5nce the first days of 
cur acquaintanceship. 

"When she retimed to the farm, 
nfter walking for hours on the wind- 
beaten coast, her Ic ig curled hair would 
be shaken out an I hanging loose, as 
though it had broken away from its 
bearings. It was seldom that this gave 
her any concern; though sometimes she 
looked as though she had been dining 
sa?is ceremonie; her locks having be- 
come disheveled by the b'*eezes. 

"She would then go up to her room 
in order to adiust what I called her 
glass lamps. When I wotiM say to her. 



190 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



in familiar gallantry, which, however, 
always offended her: 

" 'You are as beautiful as a planet 
to-day, Miss Harriet,' a little blood 
would immediately mount into her 
cheeks, the blood of a young maiden, 
the blood of sweet fifteen. 

"Then she would become abruptly 
savage and cease coming to watch me 
paint. But I always thought: 

" 'This is only a fit of temper she is 
passing through.' 

"But it did not always pass away. 
When I spoke to her sometimes, she 
would answer me, either with an air of 
affected indifference, or in sullen anger; 
and she became by turns rude, impa- 
tient, and nervous. For a time I never 
saw her except at meals, and we spoke 
but little. I concluded, at length, that 
I must have offended her in something: 
and, accordingly, I said to her one eve- 
ning: 

" 'Miss Harriet, why is it that you do 
not act toward me as formerly? What 
have I done to displease you? You are 
causing me much pain!' 

"She responded, in an angry tone, in 
a manner altogether sui generis: 

" 'I am always with you the same as 
formerly. It is not true, not true,' and 
she ran upstairs and shut herself up in 
her room. 

"At times she would look upon me 
with strange eyes. Since that time I 
have often said to myself that those 
condemned to death must look thus 
when informed that their last day has 
come. In her eye there lurked a species 
of folly, a folly at once mysterious and 
violent — even more, a fever, an exasper- 
ated desire, impatient, at once incapa- 
ble of being realized and unrealizable! 



"Nay, it seemed to me that there was 
also going on within her a combat, in 
which her heart struggled against an 
unknown force that she wished to over- 
come — perhaps, even, something else. 
But what could I know? What could I 
know? 

Ill 

"This was indeed a singular revela- 
tion. 

"For some time I had commenced to 
work, as soon as daylight appeared, on 
a picture, the subject of which was as 
follows ; 

"A deep ravine, steep banks domi* 
nated by two declivities, lined with 
brambles and long rows of trees, hidden, 
drowned in milky vapor, clad in ihat 
misty robe which sometimes floats over 
valleys at break of day. At the ex- 
treme end of that thick and transparent 
fog, you see coming, or rather already 
come, a human couple, a stripling and a 
maiden embr:}ced, interlaced, she, with 
head leaning on him, he, inclined toward 
her, and lip to lip. 

"A ray of the sun, glistening through 
the branches, has traversed the fog of 
dawn and illuminated it with a rosy re- 
flection, just behind the rustic lovers, 
whose vague shadows are reflected on 
it in clear silver. It was well done, yes, 
indeed, well done. 

"I was working on the declivity which 
led to the Val d'Etretat. This particu- 
lar morning, I had, by chance, the sort 
of floating vapor which was necessary 
for my purpose. Suddenly, an object 
appeared in front of me, a kind of phan- 
tom; it v/as Miss Harriet. On seeing 
me, she took to flight. But I called 
after her saying: 'Come here, come 



MISS HARRIET 



191 



here, Mademoiselle, I have a nice little 
picture for you.' 

"She came forward, though with 
seeming reluctance. I handed her my 
sketch. She said nothing, but stood for 
a long time motionless, looking at it. 
Suddenly she burst into tears. She 
wept spasmodically, like men who have 
been struggling hard against shedding 
tears, but who can do so no longer, and 
abandon themselves to grief, though un- 
willingly. I got up, trembling, moved 
myself by the sight of a sorrow I did 
not comprehend, and I took her by the 
hand with a gesture of brusque affec- 
tion, a true French impulse which im- 
pels one quicker than one thinks, 

"She let her hands rest in mine for 
a few seconds and I felt them quiver, 
as if her whole nervous system was 
twisting and turning. Then she with- 
drew her hands abruptly, or, rather, tore 
them out of mine. 

"I recognized that shiver as soon as 
I had felt it; I was deceived in nothing. 
Ah! the love shudder of a woman, 
whether she is fifteen or fifty years 
of age, whether she is one of the people 
or one of the tnonde, goes so straight 
to my heart that I never had any diffi- 
culty in understanding it! 

"Her whole frail being trembled, vi- 
brated, yielded. I knew it. She walked 
away before I had time to say a word, 
leaving me as surprised as if I had wit- 
nessed a miracle, and as troubled as if 
I had commit led a crjicv. 

"I did not go in to breakfast. 1 took 
a walk on the b?nks of the Falaise, feel- 
ing that I could just as soon weep as 
laugh, looking on the adventure as both 
comic and deplorable, and my position 



as ridiculous, fain to believe thaf 1 had 
lost my head. 

"I asked myself what I ought to do. 
I debated whether I ought not to take 
my leave of the place and almost imme- 
diately my resolution was formed. 

"Somewhat sad and perplexed, I wan- 
dered about until dinner time, and en- 
tered the farmhouse just when the soup 
had been served up. 

"I sat down at the table, as usual. 
Miss Harriet was there, munching away 
solemnly, without speaking to anyone, 
without even lifting her eyes. She wore, 
however her usual expression, both of 
countenance and manner. 

"I waited, patiently, till the meal had 
been finished. Then, turning,' toward 
the landlady, I said: 'Madame Leca- 
cheur, it will not be long now before I 
shall have to take my leave of you.' 

"The good woman, at once surprised 
and troubled, replied in a quivering 
voice: 'My dear sir, what is it I have 
just heard you say? Are you going to 
leave us, after I have become so much 
accustomed to you?' 

"I looked at Miss Harriet from the 
corner of my eye. Her countenance did 
not change in the least; but the under- 
servant came toward me with eyes 
wide open. She was a fai: girl, of about 
eighteen years of age, rosy, fresh, strong 
as a horse, yet possessing a rare attri- 
bute in one in her position — she was 
very neat and clean. I had kissed her 
at odd times, in out of the way cor- 
ners, in the manner of a mountain 
^T-^ide, nothing more. 

"The dinner being over, I went to 
smoKe my pipe under the apple-trees, 
walking up and down at my ease, from 
one end of the court to the other. AU 



192 



WORKS Of GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



the reflections which 1 had made during 
the da>, tne strange discovery of the 
momiug, that grotesque and passionate 
attachment for me, the recollections 
which that revelation had suddenly 
called up, recoUections at once charm- 
ing and perplexing, perhaps, also, that 
look which the servant had cast on me 
at the announcement of my departure — 
•.!^ these things, mixed up and com- 
bined, put me now in an excited bodily 
state, with the tickling sensation of 
kisses on my lips, and in my veins some- 
thing which urgt:d me on to commit 
some folly. 

"Night having come on, casting its 
dark shadows under the trees, I descried 
Celeste, who had gone to shut the hen- 
coops, at the other end of the inclosurc. 
I darted toward 'ier, runnmg so noise- 
lessly that she beard nothing, and as 
she got up from closing the small traps 
by which the chickens went in and out, 
I clasped her in my arms and rained on 
her coarse, fat face a shower of kisses. 
She made a struggle, laughing all the 
same, as she was accustomed to do in 
such circumstances. What made me 
suddenly loose my grip of her? Why 
did I at once experience a shock? What 
was it that I heard behind me? 

"It was Miss Harriet who had come 
upon us, who had seen us, and who 
stood in front of us, as motionless as a 
specter. Then she disappeared in the 
darkness. 

"I was ashamed, embarrassed, more 
annoyed at having been surprised by 
her than if she had caught me commit- 
ting some criminal act. 

"x olept badly that night; I was 
worried and haunted by sad thoughts. 
/ seemed to *^ear loud weepinn: but in 



this 1 was no aoubt deceived. More* 
over, I thought several times that I 
heard some one walking up and down 
in the house, and that some one opened 
my door from the outside. 

"Toward morning, I was overcome 
by fatigue, and sleep seized on mc. I 
got up late and did not go downstairs 
until breakfast time, being still in a 
bewildered state, not knowmg what 
kind of face to put on. 

"No one had seen Miss Harriet. Wa 
waited for her at table, but she cid not 
appear. At length, Mother Lecacheur 
went to her room. The Englishwoman 
had gone out. She must have set out 
at break of day, as she was wont to 
do, in order to see the sun rise. 

"Nobody seemed astonished at this 
and we began to eat in silence. 

*'The weather was hot, very hot, one 
of those still sultry days when not a 
leaf stirs. The table had been placed 
out of doors, under an apple- iree; and 
from time to time Sapeur had gone to 
the cellar to draw a jug of cider, every- 
body was so thirsty. Celeste brcught 
the dishes from the kitchen, a ragout ot 
mutton with potatoes, a cold rabbit, and 
a salad. Afterward she placed before 
us a dish of strawberries, the first of 
the season. 

**As I wanted to wash and freshen 
these, I begged the servant to go and 
bring a p'tcher of cold water. 

*'In about five minutes she returned, 
declaring that the well was dry. She 
had lowered the pitcher to the full ex- 
tent of the cord, and had touched the 
bottom, but on drawing: the pitcher up 
again, it was empty. Mother Lecacheur, 
anxious to ey'.ine the thing for her- 
self. Ti'ent and looked down the hole. 



MISS HARRIET 



wa 



She returned announcing that one could 
see clearly something in the well, some- 
thing altogether unusual. But this, no 
doubt, was pottles of strav/, which, out 
of spite, had been cast down it by a 
neighbor. 

"I wished also to look down the well, 
hoping to clear up the mystery, and 
perched myself close to its brink. I 
perceived, indistinctly, a white object. 
What could it be? I then conceived 
the idea of lowering a lantern at the 
end of a cord. When I did so, the yel- 
low flame danced on the layers cf stone 
and gradu:illy became clearer. All four 
of us were leaning over the opening, 
Sapeur and Celeste having now joined 
us. The kntern rested on a black and 
white, indistinct mass, singular, incom- 
prehensible. Sapeur exclaimed: 

" 'It is a horse. I see the hoofs. It 
must have escaped from the meadow, 
during the night, and fallen in head- 
long.* 

"But, suddenly, a cold shiver attacked 
my spine, I first recognized a foot, then 
a clothed limb; the body was entire, but 
the other limb had disappeared under 
the water. 

"I groaned and trembled so violently 
that the light of the lamp danced 
hither and thither o/er the object, dis- 
covering a slipper. 

" *It is a woman ! who — ^who — can it 
be? It is Miss Harriet.' 

"Sapeur rlone did not manifest hor- 
ror. He had witnessed many such 
scenes in Africa. 

"Mother Lecacheur and Celeste be- 
gan to scream and to shriek, and ran 
away. 

"But it was necessary to recover the 
corose of the dead. I attached the boy 



securely by the loihs to the end of the 
pulley-rope; then I lowered him slowly, 
and watched him disappear in the dark- 
ness. In the one hand he had a lan- 
tern, and held on to the rope with the 
other. Soon I recognized his voice, 
which seemed to come from the center 
of the earth, crying: 

" 'Stop.' 

"I then saw him fish something out 
of the water. It was the other limb. 
He bound the two feet together, and 
shouted anew: 

" 'Haul up.' 

"I commenced to wind him up, but 
I felt my arms strain, my muscles 
twitch, and was in terror lest I should 
let ths boy fall to the bottom. Wheo 
his head appeared over the brink, J 
asked : 

"'What is it?' as though I only ex- 
pected that he would tell me what he 
had discovered at the bottom. 

"We both got on to the stone slab at 
the edge of the well, and, face to face, 
hoisted the body. 

"Mother Lecacheur and Celeste 
watched us from a distance, concealed 
behind the wall of the house. When 
they saw, issuing from the well, the 
black slippers and white stockings of 
the drowned person, they disappeared. 

"Sapeur seized the ankles of the poor 
chaste woman, and we drew it up, in- 
clined, as it was, in the most immodest 
posture. The head was in a shockmg 
state, bruised and black; and the long, 
gray hair, hanging down, was tangled 
and disordered. 

" *In the name of all that is holy, 
how lean she is!' exclaimed Sapeur, in 
a contemptuous tone. 

"We carried her into the room, and 



194 

as the women did not put in an appear- 
ance, I, with the assistance of the lad, 
dressed the corpse for burial. 

"I washed her disfigured face. By 
the touch of my hand an eye was slightly 
opened; it seemed to scan me with that 
pale stare, with that cold, that terrible 
look which corpses have, a look which 
seems to come from the beyond. I 
plaited up, as well as I could, her dis- 
heveled hair, and I adjusted on her fore- 
head a novel and singularly formed 
lock. Then I took off her dripping wet 
garments, baring, not without a feeling 
of shame, as though I had been guilty 
of some profanation, her shoulders and 
her chest, and her long arms, slim as 
the twigs of branches. 

"I next went to fetch some flowers, 
corn poppies, blue beetles, marguerites, 
and fresh and perfumed herbs, with 
which to strew her funeral couch. 

"Being the only person near her, it 
was necessary for me to perform the 
Msual ceremonies. In a letter found in 
her pocket, written at the last moment, 
she asked that her body be buried in 
the village in which she had passed the 
last days of her life. A frightful thought 
then oppressed my heart. Was it not 
on my account that she wished to be 
laid at rest in this place? 

"Toward the evening, all the female 
gossips of the locality came to view 
the remains of the defunct ; but I would 
not allow a single person to enter; I 
wanted to be alone; and I watched by 
the corpse the whole night. 

"By the flickering light of the can- 
dles, I looked at the body of this miser- 
able woman, wholly unknown, who had 
died so lamentably and so far away 
from home. Had she left no friends. 



VVORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



no relatives behind her? What had her 
infancy been? What had been her life? 
When had she come thither, all alone, a 
wanderer, like a dog driven from home? 
What secrets of suffering and of despair 
were sealed up in that disagreeable body, 
in that spent and withered body, that 
impenetrable hiding place of a mystery 
which had driven her far away from 
affection and from love? 

"How many unhappy beings there 
are! I felt that upon that human crea- 
ture weighed the eternal injustice of 
implacable nature! Life was over with 
her, without her ever having experi- 
enced, perhaps, that which sustains the 
most miserable of us all — to wit, the 
hope of being once loved! Otherwise, 
why should she thus have concealed her- 
self, have fled from the face of others? 
Why did she love everything so ten- 
derly and so passionately, everything 
living that was not a man? 

"I recognized, also, that she believed 
in a God, and that she hoped for com- 
pensation from him for the miseries she 
had endured. She had now begun to 
decompose, and to become, in turn, a 
plant. She who had blossomed in the 
sun was now to be eaten up by the 
cattle, carried away in herbs, and in the 
flesh of beasts, again to become human 
flesh. But that which is called the soul 
had been extinguished at the bottom of 
the dark well. She suffered no longer. 
She had changed her life for that of 
others yet to be bom. 

"Hours passed away in this silent and 
sinister communion with the dead. A 
pale light at length announced the dawn 
of a new day, and a bright ray glistened 
on the bed, shedding a dash of fire on 



THE HOLE 



195 



Ae bedclothes and on her fiands. This 
was the hour she had so much loved, 
when the waking birds began to sing 
in the trees. 

"I opened the window to its fullest 
extent, I drew back the curtains, so 
that the whole heavens might look in 
upon us. Then bending toward the 
glassy corpse, I took in my hands the 
mutilated head, and slowly, without 
terror or disgust, imprinted a long, long 
kiss upon those lips which had never 



before received the salute of love."' 

3fC JJC 7^ 3)C jp ^^ 

Leon Chenal remained silent. The 
women wept. We heard on the box 
seat Count d'Etraille blow his nose, from 
time to time. The coachman alone had 
gone to sleep. The horses, which felt 
no longer the sting of the whip, had 
slackened their pace and dragged softly 
along. And the four-in-hand, hardly 
moving at all, became suddenly torpid, 
as if laden with sorrow. 



The Hole 



CUTS AND WOUNDS WHICH CAUSED 

IDE.4TH. 
That was the heading of the charge 
which brought Leopold Renard, up- 
holsterer, before the Assize Court. 

Round him were the principal wit- 
nesses, Madame Flameche, widow of the 
victim, Louis Ladureau, cabinetmaker, 
and Jean Durdent, plumber. 

Near the criminal was his wife, 
dressed in black, a little ugly woman, 
who looked like a monkey dressed as a 
lady. 

This is how Renard described the 
drama : 

"Good heavens, it is a misfortune of 
which I am the first and last victim, 
and with which my will has nothing to 
do. The facts are their own commen- 
tary. Monsieur le President. I am an 
honest man, a hard-working man, an 
: upholsterer in the same street for the 
last sixteen years, known, liked, re- 
spected, and esteemed by all, as my 



neighbors have testified, even the porter, 
who is not foldtre every day. I am 
fond of work, I am fond of saving, I 
like honest men, and respectable plea- 
sures. That is what has ruined me, so 
much the worse for me; but as my will 
had nothing to do with it, I continue 
to respect myself. 

"Every Sunday for the last five years, 
my wife and I have spent the day at 
Passy. We get fresh air, not to say that 
we are fond of fishing — as fond of it 
as we are of small onions. Melie in- 
spired me with that passion, the jade; 
she is more enthusiastic than I am, 
the scold, and all the mischief in this 
business is her fault, as you will see 
immediately. 

"I am strong and mild-tempered, 
without a pennyworth of malice in me. 
But she! oh! la! la! she looks insignif- 
icant, she is short and thin, but she 
does more mischief than a weasel. I do 
not deny that she has some good Quali- 



196 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



ties; she has some, and those very im- 
portant to a man in business. But her 
character! Just ask about it i:i th3 
neighborhood; even the porter's wife, 
who has just sent me about my busi- 
ness — she will tell you something about 
it. 

**Every day she used to fmd fault with 
my mild temper: *! would not put up 
with this! I would not put up with 
that.* Jf I had listened to her, Mon- 
sieur le President, I should have had at 
least three bouts of fisticuffs a month." 

Madame Rcnard interrupted him: 
"And for good reasons too; they laugh 
best who laugh last." 

He turned toward her frankly: "Oh! 
very well, I can blame you, since you 
were the cause of it." 

Then, facing the President again he 
said : 

"I will continue. We used to go to 
Passy every Saturday evening, so as to 
be able to begin fishing at daybreak the 
next morning. It is a habit which has 
become second nature with us, as the 
saying is. Three years ago this sum- 
mer I d"scovered a place, oh! such a 
spot! There, in the shade, were eight 
feet of water at least and perhaps ten, 
a hole with a retour under the bank, 
a regular retreat for fish and a para- 
dise for any fisherman. I might look 
upon that hole as my property. Mon- 
sieur I2 President, as I was its Chris- 
topher Columbus. Everybody in the 
neighborhood knew it, without making 
any opposition. They used to say: 
That is Renard's place'; and nobody 
would have gone to it, not even Mon- 
sieur Plumsay, who is renowned, be it 
said without any offense, for appropriat- 
ing other people's places. 



"Well, I went as usual to that place, 
of which I felt as certain as if 1 had 
owned it. I had scarcely got there on 
Saturday, when I got into 'Delila,' with 
my wife. 'Delila' is my Norwegian boat, 
which I had built by Fourmaise, and 
which is light and safe. Well, as I said, 
v.'e got into the boat and we were going 
to bait, and for baiting there is nobody 
to be compared with me, and they all 
know it. You want to know with what 
I bait? I cannot answer that question; 
it has nothing to do with the accident; 
I cannot answer, that is my secret. 
There are more than three hundred peo- 
ple who have asked mc; I have been 
offered glasses of brandy and liquors, 
fried fish, matelots,* to make me tell! 
But just go and try whether the chub 
will come. Ah! they have patted my 
stomach to get at my secret, my recipe. 
Only my wife knows, and she will not 
tell it, any more than I shall! Is not 
that so, Melie?" 

The President of the Court inter- 
rupted him: 

"Just get to the facts as soon as 
you can." 

The accused continued: "I am get- 
ting to them; I am getting to them. 
Well, on Saturday, July 8, we left by 
the five twenty-five train, and before 
dinner we went to ground-bait as usual. 
The weather promised to keep fine, and 
I said to Melie: 'All right for tomor- 
row!' And she replied: 'It looks like 
it.' We never talk more than that to- 
gether. 

"And then we returned to dinner. 
I was happy and thirsty, and that was 
the cause of everj^thing. I said to 



*A preparation of several kinds of 
fish, with a sharp saure. 



THE HOLE 



107 



Melie: 'Look here, Melle, it is fine 
weather, so suppose I drink a bottle of 
Casque a tnechc. That is a little white 
wine which we have christened so, be- 
cause if ycu drink too much cf it it 
prevents you from sleeping and is the 
opposite of a night cap. Do you under- 
stand me? 

"She replied: 'You can do as you 
p. ease, but you will be ill again, and 
will not be able to get up to-mcrrow.' 
That was true, sensible, prudent, and 
clearsighted, 1 must confess. Neverthe- 
less, I could not withstand it, and I 
drank my bottle. It all comes from 
that. 

"Well, I could not sleep. By Jove! 
It kept me awake till two o'clock in the 
morning, and then I went to sleep so 
soundly that I should not have heard the 
angel shouting at the Last Judgment. 

'Tn sho'-t, my wife woke me at six 
o'clock and I jumped out of bed, hastily 
put on my trousers and jersey, washed 
my face and jumped on board 'Delila.' 
But it was too late, for when I arrived 
at my hole it wns already taken! Such 
a thing had never happened to me in 
three years, and it made me feel as if 
I were being robbed under my own eyes. 
I said to myself, 'Confound it ail! con- 
found it!* And then my wife began to 
nag at me. *Eh! What about your 
Casque d meche! Get along, you 
drunkard! Are you satisfied, you great 
fool?' I could say nothing, b:cause it 
was all quite true, and so I landed all 
the same near the spot and tried to 
profit by what was left. Perhaps after 
all the fellow might catch nothing, and 
go away. 

"He wrs a little thin man, in white 
linen coat and waistcoat, and with a 



large straw hat, and his wife, a tat 
woman who was doing embroidery, was, 
behind him. 

"When she saw us take up our posi* 
tion close to their place, she murmured: 
T suppose there are no other places 
on the river!' And my wife, who was 
furious, replied : 'People who know how 
to behave make inquiries about the 
habits of the neighborhood before oc- 
cupying reserved spots.* 

"As I did not want a fuss, I said to 
her: Tlold your tongue, Melie. Let 
them go on, let them go on; we shall 
see.' 

"Well, v;e had fastened 'Delila' un- 
der the willowtrees, and had landed and 
were fishing side by side, Melie and I, 
close to th'* tv/o others; but here, Mon- 
sieur, I must enter into details. 

''We had only been there about five 
minutes when our male neighbor's float 
began to go down two or three times, 
and then he pulled out a chub as thick 
as my thigh, rather less, perhaps, but 
nearly as big! My heart beat, and the 
perspiration stood on my forehead, and 
Melie said to me: 'Well, you sot, did 
you see that?' 

"Just then, Monsieur Bru, the grocer 
of Poissy, who was fond of gudgeon 
fishing, passed in a boat, and called out 
lo me: 'So somebody has taken your 
usuol place, Monsieur Renard?' And 
I replied: 'Yes, Monsieur Bru, there 
are some people in this world who do 
not know the usages of common polite- 
ness.' 

"The little man in linen pretended 
not to hear, nor his fat lump of a wife. 
either." 

Here the President interrupted him a 
second time: "Take care, you are in* 



198 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



suiting the widow, Madame Flameche, 
who is present." 

Renard made his excuses: "I beg 
your pardon, I beg your pardon, my 
anger carried me away. Well, not a 
quarter of an hour had passed when the 
little man caught another chub and an- 
other almost immediately, and another 
five minutes later. 

'The tears were in my eyes, and then 
I knew that Madame Renard was boil- 
ing with rage, for she kept on nagging 
at me: 'Oh, how horrid! Don't you 
see that he is robbing you of your fish? 
Do you think that you will catch any- 
thing? Not even a frog, nothing what- 
ever. Why, my hands are burning, just 
to think of it.' 

''But I said to myself: 'Let us wait 
until twelve o'clock. Then this poach- 
ing fellow will go to lunch, and I shall 
get my place again.' As for me. Mon- 
sieur le President, I lunch on the spot 
every Sunday; we bring our provisions 
in 'Delila.' But there! At twelve 
o'clock, the wretch produced a fowl out 
of a newspaper, and while he was eat- 
ing, actually he caught another chub! 

"Melie and I had a morsel also, just 
a mouthful, a mere nothing, for our 
heart was not in it. 

"Then I took up my newspaper, to 
aid my digestion. Every Sunday I read 
the 'Gil Bias' in the shade like that, 
by the side of the water. It is Colum- 
bine's day, you know, Columbine who 
writes the articles in the 'Gil Bias.' I 
generally put Madame Renard into a 
passion by pretending to know this 
Columbine. It is not true, for I do not 
know her, and have never seen her, but 
that does not matter; she writes very 
well, and then she says things straight 



out for a wom.an. She suits me, and 
there are not many of her sort. 

"Well, I began to tease my wife, but 
she got angry immediately, and very 
angry, and so I held my tongue. At 
that moment our two v;itnesses, who are 
present here, Monsieur Ladureau and 
Monsieur Durdent, appeared on the 
other side of the river. We knew each 
other by sight. The little man began to 
fish again, and he caught so many that 
I trembled with vexation, and his wife 
said: Tt is an uncommonly good spot, 
and we will come here always. Desire.' 
As for me, a cold shiver ran down my 
back, and Madame Renard kept repeat- 
ing: 'You are not a man; you have 
the blood of a chicken in your veins'; 
and suddenly I said to her: 'Look here, 
I would rather go away, or I shall only 
be doing something foolish.' 

"And she whispered to me as if she 
had put a red-hot iron under my nose: 
'You are not a man. Now you are 
going to run away, and surrender your 
place! Off you go, Bazaine!' 

"Well, I felt that, but yet I did not 
move, while the otjier fellow pulled out 
a bream, Oh! I never saw such a large 
one before, never! And then my wife 
began to talk aloud, as if she were think- 
ing, and you can see her trickery. She 
said: 'That is what one might call 
stolen fish, seeing that we baited the 
place ourselves. At any rate, they ought 
to give us back the money we have 
spent on bait.' 

"Then the fat woman in the cotton 
dress said in turn: 'Do you mean to 
call us thieves, Madame?' And they 
began to explain, and then they came to 
words. Oh! Lord! those creatures know 
some good ones. They shouted so loud. 



THE INN 



199 



that our two witnesses, who were on 
the other bank, began to call out by way 
of a joke: 'Less noise over there; you 
will prevent your husbands from fish- 
ing.' 

"The fact is that neither of us moved 
any more than if we had been two tree- 
stumps. We remained there, with our 
noses over the water, as if we had heard 
nothing, but by Jove, we heard all the 
same. 'You are a mere liar.' 

" 'You are nothing better than a 
street-walker.' 

" 'You are only a trollop.' 
" 'You are a regular strumpet.' 
"And so on, and so on; a sailor could 
not have said more. 

"Suddenly I heard a noise behind 
me, and turned round. It was the other 
one, the fat woman who had fallen on 
to my wife with her parasol. Whack! 
whack! Melie got tv/o of them, but she 
was furious, and she hits hard when 
she is in a rage, so she caught the fat 
woman by the hair and then, thump, 
thump. Slaps in the face rained down 
like ripe plums. I should have let them 
go on — ^women among themselves, men 
among themselves — it does not do to 
mix the blows, but the little man in the 
linen jacket jumped up like a devil and 
was going to rush at my wife. Ah! 
no, no, not that, my friend! I caught 
the gentleman with the end of my fist, 
crash, crash, one on the nose, the other 
in the stomach. He threw up his arms 



and legs and fell on his back into the 
river, just into the hole. 

"I should have fished him out most 
certainly. Monsieur le President, if I 
had had the time. But unfortunately 
the fat woman got the better of it, and 
she was drubbing Melie terribly. I 
know that I ought not to have assisted 
her while the man was drinking his fill, 
but I never thought that he would 
drown, and said to myself: 'Bah, it will 
cool him.' 

"I therefore ran up to the women to 
separate them, and all I received was 
scratches and bites. Good Lord, what 
creatures! Well, it took me five min- 
utes, and perhaps ten, to separate those 
two viragoes. When I turned around, 
there was nothing to be seen, and the 
water was as smooth as a lake. The 
others yonder kept shouting: 'Fish him 
out!' It was all very well to say that, 
but I cannot swim and still less dive! 

"At last the man from the dam came, 
and two gentlemen with boat-hooks, but 
it had taken over a quarter of an hour. 
He was found at the bottom of the 
hole in eight feet of water, as I have 
said, but he was dead, the poor little 
man in his linen suit! There are the 
facts, such as I have sworn to. I am 
innocent, on my honor." 

The witnesses having deposed to the 
same effect, the accused was acquitted. 



The Inn 

Like all the little wooden inns in the the white summits of the mountains, the 

higher Alps, tiny auberges situated in the inn of Schwarenbach is a refuge for 

bare and rocky gorges which intersect travelers who are crossing the Gemmi. 



:oo 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



It is open six months in the year, and 
is inhabited by the family of Jean 
Hauser. As soon as the snow begins 
to fall, and fills the valley so as to 
make the road down to Loeche im- 
passable, the father, with mother, 
daughter, and the three sons depart, 
leaving the house in charge of the old 
guide, Gaspard Hari, with the young 
guide, Ulrich Kunsi, and Sam, the great 
mountain dog. 

The two men and the dog remain till 
spring in their snowy prison, with noth- 
ing before their eyes except immense, 
white slopes of the Balmhorn, sur- 
rounded by light, glistening summits, 
and shut up, blocked up, and buried by 
the snow which rises around them, en- 
veloping and almost burying the little 
house up to the eaves. 

It was the day on which the Hauser 
family were going to return to Loeche, 
as winter was approaching, and the 
descent was becoming dangerous. Three 
mules started first, laden with baggage 
and led by the three sons. Then the 
mother, Jeanne Hauser, and her daugh- 
ter Louise mounted a fourth mule, and 
set off in their turn. The father fol- 
lowed them, accompanied by the two 
nen in charge, who were to escort the 
'amily as far as the brow of the descent, 
"irst of all they skirted the small lake, 
tow frozen over, at the foot of the mass 
jf rocks which stretched in front of the 
inn; then they followed the valley, 
which was dominated on all sides by 
snow-ccvered peaks. 

A ray of sunlight glinted into that 
little white, glistening, frozen desert, 
illuminating it with a cold and dazzling 
flame. No living thing appeared among 
this ocean of hills; there was no stir 



in that immeasurable solitude, no noise 
disturbed the profound silence. 

By degrees the young guide, Ulrich 
Kunsi, a tall, long-legged Swiss, left 
daddy Hauser and old Gaspard behind, 
in order to catch up with the mule which 
carried the two women. The younger 
one looked at him as he approached, as 
if she would call him with her sad eyes. 
She was a young, light-haired peasant 
girl, whose milk-white cheeks and pale 
hair seemed to have lost their color by 
long dwelling amid the ice. When Ul- 
rich had caught up with the animal 
which carried the women, he put his 
hand on the crupper, and relaxed his 
speed. Mother Hauser began to talk 
to him, and enumerated with minutest 
detail all that he would have to attend 
to during the winter. It was the first 
winter he would spend up there, while 
old Hari had already spent fourteen 
winters amid the snow, at the inn of 
Schwarenbach. 

Ulrich Kunsi listened, without ap- 
pearing to understand, and looked in- 
cessantly at the girl. From time to 
time he replied: "Yes, Madame 
Hauser"; but his thoughts seemed far 
away, and his calm features remained 
unmoved. 

They reached Lake Daube, whose 
broad, frozen surface reached to the 
bottom of the valley. On the right, 
the Daubenhorn showed its black mass, 
rising up in a peak above the enormous 
moraines of the Lommeon glacier, 
which soared above the Wildstrubel. 
As they approached the neck of the 
Gemmi, where the descent to Loeche be- 
gins, the immense horizon of the Alps 
of the Valais, from which the broad* 



THE INN 



201 



deep valley of the Rhone separated 
them, came in view. 

In the distance, there was a group of 
white, unequal, flat or pointed moun- 
tain summits, which glistened in the 
sun; the Mischabel with its twin peaks, 
the huge group of the Weisshorn, th3 
heavy Brunegghorn, the lofty and 
formidable pyramid of Mont Cervin, 
slayer of men, and the Dent Blanche, 
that terrible coquette. 

Then beneath them, as at the bot- 
tom of a tcrribb abyss, they saw Loechc, 
its houses looking like grains of sand 
which had been thrown into that enor- 
mous crevice which finishes and closes 
the Gcmmi, and which opens, down be- 
low, on to the Rhone. 

The mule stopped at the edge of the 
path, which turns and twists continually, 
zigzagging fantastically and strangely 
along the steep side cf the mountain, 
as far as the almost invisible little vil- 
lage at its feet. Th? women jumped 
into the snov/, and the two old men 
joined them. 

**Well," father Hauser said, "good- 
bye, and keep up your spirits till next 
year, my friends," and old Hari replied: 
*'Till next year." 

They embraced each other, and then 
Madame Hauser in her turn, offered 
her check, and the girl did the same. 
When Ulrich Kunsi's turn came, be 
whispered in Louise's ear: 

"Do not forget those up yonder," and 
she replied: *'No," in such a low voice, 
that he guessed what she had said, with- 
out hearing it. 

"Well, adieu," Jean Hauser repeated, 
"and don't fall in." Then, going before 
the two women, be commenced the 
descent, and soon all three disappeared 



at the first turn in the road, while tho 
two men returned to the inn at Sch- 
warenbach. 

They walked slowly side by side, 
without speaking. The parting was over, 
rnd they would b: alone together for. 
four or five months. Then Gaspard 
Ilari began to relate his Ills hst winter, 
lie had remained with Michael Canol, 
v/ho was too old now to sland it; for 
r.n accident might happen during that 
bng solitude. They had nrt been dull, 
however; the only thing was to be re- 
signed to it from th^ first, and in the 
end one would find plenty of distraction, 
games and other means of whiling away 
the time. 

Ulrich Kunsi listened to him with his 
eyes on the ground, fcr in thought he 
\vas with those who were descending to 
the village. They soon came in sight 
cf the inn, which was scarcely visible, 
so small did it look, a mere black speck 
rt the foct of that enormous billow 
of snow. When they opened the door^ 
Sam, the great curly dog, began to romp 
round them. 

"Come, my boy," old Gaspard said, 
"we have no women now, so we must 
get our own dinner ready. Go and peel 
the potatoes." And they both sat down 
on wooden stools, and began to put the 
bread into the soup. 

The next mo"ning seemed very long 
to Kunsi. Old Ilari smoked and smoked 
beside the hearth, while the young man 
looked out of the window at the snow- 
covered mountain opposite the house. 
In the afternoon he went out, and going 
over the previous day's ground again, 
he looked for the traces of the mule 
that had carried the two women; then 
when he had reached the neck of the 



202 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



Gemmi, he laid himself down on his 
stomach, and looked at Loeche. 

The village, in its rocky pit, was not 
yet buried under the snow, although the 
white masses came quite close to it, 
balked, however, of their prey by the 
pine woods which protected the hamlet. 
From his vantage point the low houses 
looked like pavingstones in a large mea- 
dow. Hauser's little daughter was there 
now in one of those gray-colored houses. 
In which? Ulrich Kunsi was too far 
away to be able to make them out 
separa^tely. How he would have liked 
to go down while he was yet able! 

But the sun had disappeared behind 
the lofty crest of the Wildstrubel, and 
the young man returned to the chalet. 
Daddy Hari was smoking, and, when 
he saw his mate come in, proposed a 
game of cards to him. They sat down 
opposite each other for a long time and 
played the simple game called hrisque; 
then they had supper and went to bed. 

The following days were like the first, 
bright and cold, without any more snow. 
Old Gaspard spent his afternoons in 
watching the eagles and other rare birds 
which ventured on to those frozen 
heights, while Ulrich journeyed regularly 
to the neck of the Gemmi to look at the 
village. In the evening they played at 
cards, dice, or dominoes, and lost and 
won trifling sums, just to create an in- 
terest in the game. 

One morning Hari, who was up first, 
called his companion. A moving cloud 
of white spray, deep and light, was fall- 
ing on them noiselessly, and burying 
them by degrees under a dark, thick 
coverlet of foam. This lasted four days 
and four nights. It was necessary to 
free the door and the windows, to dig 



out a passage, and to cut steps to get 
over this frozen powder, which a twelve- 
hours' frost had made as hard as the 
granite of the moraines. 

They lived like prisoners, not ven- 
turing outside their abode. They had 
divided their duties and performed them 
regularly. Ulrich Kunsi undertook the 
scouring, washing, and everything that 
belonged to cleanliness. He also 
chopped up the wood, while Gaspard 
Hari did the cooking and attended to 
the fire. Their regular and monotonous 
work was relieved by long games at 
cards or dice, but they never quarreled, 
and were always calm and placid. They 
were never even impatient or ill- 
humored, nor did they ever use hard 
words, for they had laid in a stock of 
patience for this wintering on the top 
of the mountain. 

Sometimes old Gaspard took his rifle 
and went after chamois, and occasion- 
ally killed one. Then there was a feast 
in the inn at Schwarenbach, and they 
reveled in fresh meat. One morning 
he went out as usual. The thermometer 
outside marked eighteen degrees of 
frost, and as the sun had not yet risen, 
the hunter hoped to surprise the animals 
at the approaches to the Wildstrubel. 
Ulrich, being alone, remained in bed 
until ten o'clock. He was of a sleepy 
nature, but would not have dared to 
give way like that to his inclination in 
the presence of the old guide, who was 
ever an early riser. He breakfasted 
leisurely with Sam, who also spent his 
days and nights in sleeping in front of 
the fire; then he felt low-spirited and 
even frightened at the solitude, and was 
seized by a longing for his daily game 
of cards, as one is by the domination of 



THE INN 



203 



an invincible habit. So he went 9ut to 
meet his companion, who was to return 
at four o'clock. 

The snow had leveled the whole deep 
valley, filled up the crevasses, oblit- 
erated all signs of the two lakes and 
covered the rocks, so that between the 
high summits there was nothing but an 
immense, white, regular, dazzling, and 
frozen surface. For three weeks, Ul- 
rich had not been to the edge of the 
precipice, from which he had looked 
down on to the village, and he wanted 
to go there before climbing the slopes 
which led to the Wildstrubel. Loeche 
was now covered by the snow, and the 
houses could scarcely be distinguished, 
hidden as they were by that white cloak. 

Turning to the right, Ulrich reached 
the Lammern glacier. He strode along 
with a mountaineer's long swinging pace, 
striking the snow, which was as hard 
as a rock, with his iron-shod stick, and 
with piercing eyes looking for the little 
black, moving speck in the distance, 
on that enormous, white expanse. 

When he reached the end of the 
glacier he stopped, and asked himself 
whether the old man had taken that 
road, and then he began to walk along 
the moraines with rapid and uneasy 
steps. The day was decHning ; the snow 
was assuming a rosy tint, and a dry, 
frozen wind blew in rough gusts over 
its crystal surface. Ulrich uttered a 
long, shrill, vibrating call. His voice 
sped through the deathlike silence in 
which the mountains were sleeping; it 
reached into the distance, over the pro- 
found and motionless waves of glacial 
foam, like the cry of a bird over the 
waves of the sea; then it died away 
and nothing answered him. 



He started off again. The sun had 
sunk behind the mountain tops, which 
still were purpled with the reflection 
from the heavens, but the depths of 
the valley were becoming gray, and 
suddenly the young man felt frightened. 
It seemed to him as if the silence, the 
cold, the solitude, the wintry death of 
these mountains were taking possession 
of him, were stopping and freezing his 
blood, making his Hmbs grow stiff, and 
turning him into a motionless and frozen 
object; and he began to run rapidly 
toward the dwelling. The old man, he 
thought, would have returned during his 
absence. He had probably taken an- 
other road; and would, no doubt, be 
sitting before the fire, with a dead 
chamois at his feet. 

He soon came in sight of the inn, but 
no smoke rose from it. Ulrich ran 
faster. Opening the door he met Sam 
who ran up to him to greet him, but 
Gaspard Hari had not returned. Kunsi, 
in his alarm, turned round suddenly, 
as if he had expected to find his com- 
rade hidden in a corner. Then he re- 
lighted the fire and made the soup; 
hoping every moment to see the old 
man come in. From time to time he 
went out to see if Gaspard were not in 
sight. It was night now, that wan night 
of the mountain, a livid night, with the 
crescent moon, yellow and dim, just 
disappearing behind the mountain tops, 
and shining faintly on the edge of the 
horizon. 

Then the young man went in and sat 
down to warm his hands and feet, while 
he pictured to himself every possible 
sort of accident. Gaspard might have 
broken a leg, have fallen into a crevasse, 
have taken a false step and dislocated 



204 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



his ankle. Perhaps he was lying on 
the snow, overcome and stiff with the 
cold, in agony of mind, lost and per- 
haps shouting for help, calling with all 
his might, in the silence of the night. 

But where? The mountain was so 
vast, io rugged, so dangerous in places, 
especially at that time of the year, that 
it would have required ten or twenty 
guides walking for a week in all direc- 
tions, to find a man in that immense 
space. Ulrich Kunsi, however, made 
up his mind to set out with Sam, if 
Gaspard did not return by one in the 
morning; and he made his preparations. 

He put provisions for two days into 
a bag, took his steel climbing-irons, tied 
a long, thin, strong rope round his waist 
and looked to see that his iron-shod 
stick and his ax, which served to cut 
steps in the ice, were in ord^r. Then 
he waited. The tire was burning on the 
hearth, the great dog was sno:-lng in 
front of it, and the clock was ticking in 
its case of resounding wood, as regularly 
as a heart beating. 

He waited, his ears on the alert for 
distant sounds, and shivered when the 
wind blew against the roof and the 
walls. It struck twelve, and he trem- 
bled. Then, as he felt frightened hnd 
shivery, he put some water on the fire, 
so that he might have hot coffee be- 
fore starting. When the clock struck 
one he got up, woke Sam, opened the 
door and went off in the direction of 
the Wildstrubel. For five hours he 
ascended, scaling the rocks by means of 
his climbing-irons, cutting into the ice, 
advancing continually, and occasionally 
hauling up the dog, who remained be- 
low at the foot of some slope that was 
too steep for him, by means of the 



rope. About six o'clock he reached one 
of the summits to which old Gaspard 
often came after chamois, and he waited 
till it should be daylight. 

The sky was growing pale overhead, 
and suddenly a strange light, springing, 
nobody could tell whence, suddenly 
illuminated the immense ocean of pale 
mountain peaks, which stretched for 
many leagues around him. It seemed 
as if this vague brightness arose from 
the snow itself, in order to spread it- 
self into space. By degrees the highest 
and most distant summits assumed a 
delicate, flcshllke rr-se color, and the 
red sun appeared behind the ponderous 
giants 01 the Bernese Alps. 

Ulrich Kunsi set off again, walking 
like a hunter, stooping and looking for 
any traces, and saying to his dog: 
"Seek old fellow, seek!" 

He was descending the mountain now, 
scanning the depths closely, and from 
time to time shouting, uttering a loud, 
prolonged familiar cry which soon died 
away in that silent vastness. Then, he 
put his ear to the ground, to listen. 
He thought he could distinguish a voice, 
and so h2 began to run and shout again. 
But he beard nothing more and sat 
down, worn out and in despair. Toward 
midday h3 breakfasted and gave Sam, 
who was as tired as himself, something 
to eat also; then he recommenced his 
search. 

When evening came he was still walk- 
ing, having traveled more than thirty 
miles ever the mountains. As he was 
too far away uo return home, and too 
tired to drag himself along any further, 
he dug a hole in the snow and crouched 
in it with his dog, under a blanket 
which he had brought with h.im- Th«» 



THE INN 



205 



man and the dog lay side by side, 
warming themselves one against the 
other, but frozen to the marrow never- 
theless. Ulrich scarcely slept, his mind 
haunted by visions and his Lmbs shak- 
ing with cold. 

Day was breaking when he got up. 
His legs were as stiff as iron bars, and 
his spirits so low that he was ready to 
weep, while his heart was beating so 
that he almost fell with excitement 
whenever he thought he heard a noise. 

Suddenly he imagined that he also 
was going to die of cold in the midst 
of this vast solitude. The terror of 
such a death roused his energies and 
gave him renewed vigor. He was de- 
scending toward the inn, falling down 
and getting up again, and followed at 
a distance by Sam, who was limping on 
three legs. They did not reach Sch- 
warenbach until four o'clock in the 
afternoon. The house was empty, and 
the young man made a fire, had some- 
thing to eat, and went to sleep, so worn- 
out that he did not think of anything 
more. 

He slept for a long time, for a very 
long time, the unconquerable sleep of 
exhaustion. But suddenly a voice, a 
cry, a name: *'Ulrich," aroused him 
from his profound slumber, and made 
him sit up in bed. Had he been dream- 
ing? Was it one of those strange ap- 
peals which cress the dreams of dis- 
quieted minds? No, he heard it still, 
that reverberating cry. — ^which had en- 
tered at his ears and remained in his 
brain, — thrilling him to the tips of his 
sinewy fingers. Certainly, somebody 
had cried out, a'ld called: "Ulrich!" 
There was somebody there, near the 
house, there fou'd be no doubt of that, 



and he opened the door and shouted: 
'Is it you, Gaspard?" with all the 
strength of his lungs. But there was no 
reply, no murmur, no groan, nothing. 
It was quite dark, and the snow looked 
wan. 

The wind had risen, that icy wind 
which cracks the rocks, and leaves noth- 
ing alive on those deserted heights. It 
came in sudden gusts, more parching 
and more deadly than the burning wind 
of the desert, and again Ulrich shouted: 
''Gaspard! Gaspard! Gaspard!*' Then 
he waited again. Everything was silent 
on the mountain! Then he shook with 
terror, and with a bound he was inside 
the inn. He shut and bolted the door, 
and then fell into a chair, trembling 
all over, for he felt certain that his 
comrade had called him at the moment 
of dissolution. 

He was certain of that, as certain as 
one is of conscious life or of taste when 
eating. Old Gaspard Hari had been 
dying for two days and three nights 
somewhere, in some hole, in one of 
those deep, untrodden ravines whose 
whiteness is more sinister than subter- 
ranean darkness. He had been dying 
for two days and three nights and he 
had just then died, thinking of his 
comrade. His soul, almost before it 
was released, had taken its fli^^ht to the 
inn where Olrich was sleeping, and it 
had called him by that terrible and 
mysterious power which the spirits of 
the dead possess. That voiceless soul 
had cried to the wornout soul of the 
sleeper; it had uttered its last farewell, 
or its reproach, or its curse on the man 
who had not searched carefully e^iough. 

And Ulrich felt that it was there, 
quite close to him, behind the wall, be* 



J06 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



hind the door which he had just fast- 
ened. It was wandering about, like a 
night bird which skims a lighted window 
with his wings, and the terrified young 
man was ready to scream with horror. 
He wanted to run away, but did not 
dare go out; he did not dare, and would 
never dare in the future, for that phan- 
tom would remain there day and night, 
round the inn, as long as the old man's 
body was not recovered and deposited 
in the consecrated earth of a church- 
yard. 

Daylight came, and Kunsi recovered 
some of his courage with the return of 
the bright sun. He prepared his meal, 
gave his dog some food, and then re- 
mained motionless on a chair, tortured 
at heart as he thought of the old man 
lying on the snow. Then, as soon as 
night once more covered the mountains, 
new" terrors assailed him. He now 
walked up and down the dark kitchen, 
which was scarcely lighted by the flame 
of one candle. He walked from one end 
of it to the other with great strides, 
listening, listening to hear the terrible 
cry of the preceding night again break 
the dreary silence outside. He felt him- 
self alone, unhappy man, as no man had 
ever been alone before! Alone in this 
immense desert of snow, alone five 
tliousand feet above the inhabited earth, 
above human habitations, above that 
stirring, noisy, palpitating life, alone 
under an icy sky! A mad longing im- 
pelled him to run away, no matter 
where, to get down to Loeche by fling- 
ing himself over the precipice; but he 
did not even dare to open the door, as 
he felt sure that the other, the dead, 
man would bar his road, so that he 



might not be obHged to remain up there 
alone. 

Toward midnight, tired with walking, 
worn-out by grief and fear, he fell into 
a doze in his chair, for he was afraid of 
his bed, as one is of a haunted spot. 
But suddenly the strident cry of the 
preceding evening pierced his ears, so 
shrill that Ulrich stretched out his arms 
to repulse the ghost, and he fell on to 
his back with his chair. 

Sam, who was awakened by the noise, 
began to howl as frightened dogs do, 
and trotted all about the house trying 
to find out where the danger came from. 
When he got to the door, he sniffed 
beneath it, smelling vigorously, with his 
coat bristling and his tail stiff while 
he growled angrily. Kunsi, who was 
terrified, jumped up, and holding his 
chair by one leg, cried: "Don't come 
in, don't come in, or I shall kill you." 
And the dog, excited by this threat, 
barked angrily at that invisible enemy 
who defied his master's voice. By de- 
grees, however, he quieted down, came 
back and stretched himself in front of 
the fire. But he was uneasy, and kept 
his head up, and growled between his 
teeth. 

Ulrich, in turn, recovered his senses, 
but as he felt faint with terror, he went 
and got a bottle of brandy out of the 
sideboard, and drank off several glasses, 
one after another, at a gulp. His ideas 
became vague, his courage revived, and 
a feverish glow ran through his veins. 

Hq ate scarcely anything the next 
day, and limited himself to alcohol; 
so he lived for several days, like a 
drunken brute. As soon as he thought 
of Gaspard Hari he began to drink 
again, and went on drinking until he 



IHE INN 



iOl 



fell on to the floor, overcome by in- 
toxication. And there he remained on 
his face, dead drunu, his limbs be- 
numbed, and snoring with his face to 
the ground. But scarcely had he di- 
gested the maddening and burning 
liquor, than the same cry, "Ulrich," 
woke him like a bullet piercing his brain, 
and he got up, still staggering, stretch- 
ing out his hands to sav»i himself from 
falling, and calling to Sam to help him. 
And the dog, who appeared to be going 
mad like his master, rushed to the door, 
scratched it with his claws, and gnawed 
it with his ^jng white teeth, while the 
young man, his neck thrown back, and 
his head in the air, drank the brandy in 
gulps, as if it were cold water, so that it 
might by and by send his thoughts, his 
frantic terror, and his mem.ory, to sleep 
again. 

In three weeks he had consumed all 
his stock of ardent spirits. But his 
continual drunkenness only lulled his 
terror, which awoke more furiously than 
ever, as soon as it was impossible for 
him to calm it by drinking. His fixed 
idea, which had been intensified by a 
month of drunkenness, and which was 
continually increasing in his absolute 
solitude, penetrated him like a gimlet. 
He now walked about his house like a 
wild beast in its cage, putting his ear 
to the door to listen if the other were 
there, and defying him through the 
wall. Then as soon as he dozed, over- 
come by fatigue, he heard the voice 
which made him leap to his feet. 

At last one night, as cowards do when 
driven to extremity, he sprang to the 
door and opened it, to see who was 
calling him, and to force him to keep 
quiet But such a gusi of cold wind 



blew into his face that it chilled him 
to the bone. He closed and bolted the 
door again immediately, without notic- 
ing that Sam had rushed out. fhcn 
as he was shivering with cold, he thre-A 
some wood on the fire, and sat down in 
front of it to warm himself. But sud- 
denly he started, for somebody was 
scratching at the wall, and crying. In 
desperation he called out: "Go away!'* 
but was answered by another long, sor^ 
rowful wail. 

Ihen all his remaining senses forsook 
him, from sheer fright. He repeated: 
"Go away!" and turned round to find 
some corner in which to hide, while the 
other person went round the house still 
crying, and rubbing against the wall. 
Ulrich went to the oak sideboard, which 
was full of plates and dishes and oi 
provisions, and lifting it up with super- 
human strength, he drarjged it to tha 
door, so as to form a barricad2. Then 
piling up all the rest of the furniture, 
the mattresses, paillasses, and chairs, he 
stopped up the windows as men dC' 
when assailed by an enemy. 

But the person outside now uttered 
long, plaintive, mournful groans, to 
which the young man replied by similar 
groans, and thus days and nights passed 
without their ceasing to howl at each 
other. The one was continually walk- 
ing round the house and scraped the 
walls with his nails so vigciously that 
it seemed as if he wished to destroy 
them, while the other, inside, followed 
all his movements, stooping down, and 
holding his ear to the walls, and reply- 
ing to all his appeals with terrible cries. 
One evening however, Ulrich heard 
nothing more, and !.• sat down, so over- 
come by fatigue that he went to sleep 



208 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



iirmediately, and awoke in the morning 
without a thought, without any recollec- 
tion of what had happened, just as if his 
head had been emptied during his heavy 
sleep. But he felt hungry, and he ate. 

The winter was over, and the Gemmi 
pass was practicable again, so the Hau- 
ser family started off to return to their 
inn. As soon as they had reached the 
top of the ascent, the women mounted 
their mule, and spoke about the two 
men who they would meet again shortly. 
They were, indeed, rather surprised that 
neither of them had come down a few 
days before, as soon as the road be- 
cam^e passable, in order to tell them all 
about their long winter sojourn. At 
last, however, they saw the inn, still 
covered with snow, like a quilt. The 
door and the windows were closed, but 
a httle smoke was coming out of the 
chimney, which reassured old Hauser; 
on going up to the door, however, he 
saw the skeleton of an animal which 
had been torn to pieces by the eagles, 
a large skeleton lying on its side. 

They all looked closely at it, and the 
mother said: 'That must be Sam." 
Then she shouted: "Hi! Gaspard!" A 
cry from the interior of the house an- 
swered her, so sharp a cry that one 
might have thought some animal uttered 



it. Old Hauser repeated: "Hi! Gas- 
pard!" and they heard another cry, 
similar to the first. 

Then the three men, the father anw 
the two sons, tried to open the door, bui 
it resisted their efforts. From the 
empty cow-stall they took a beam to 
serve as a battering-ram, and hurled it 
against the door with all their might. 
The wood gave way, and the boards 
flew into splinters; then the house was 
shaken by a loud voice, and inside, be- 
hind the sideboard which was over- 
turned, they saw a man standing up- 
right, his hair f alHng on to his shoulders 
and a beard descending to his breast, 
with shining eyes and nothing but rags 
to cover him. They did not recognize 
him, but Louise Hauser exclaimed: "It 
is Ulrich, mother." And her mother de- 
clared that it was Ulrich, although his 
hair was white. 

He allowed them to go up to him, 
and to touch him, but he did not reply 
to any of their questions, and they were 
obliged to take him to Loeche, where 
the doctors found that he was mad. 
Nobody ever knew what had become 
of his companion. 

Little Louise Hauser nearly died that 
summer of decline, which the medical 
men attributed to the cold air of the 
mountains. 



A Family 



I WAS going to see my friend Simon spend long, quiet, and happy evenings 

Radevin once more, for I had not seen with him. He was one of those men 

him for fifteen years. Formerly he was to whom one tells the most intimate 

my most intimate friend, and I used to affairs of the heart, and in whom one 



A FAMILY 



209 



finds, when quietly talking, rare, clever, 
ingenious, and refined thoughts — 
thoughts which jtimulate and capture 
the mind. 

For years we had scarcely been sepa- 
rated: we had lived, traveled, thought, 
and dreamed together; had liked the 
same things with the same liking, ad- 
mired the same books, comprehended 
the same works, shivered with the same 
sensations, and very often laughed at 
the same individuals, whom we under- 
stood completely, by merely exchanging 
a glance. 

Then he married — quite unexpectedly 
married a little girl from the provinces, 
who had come to Paris in search of a 
husband. How ever could that little, 
thin, insipidly fair girl, with her weak 
hands, her light, vacant eyes, and her 
clear, silly voice who was exactly like 
a hundred thousand marriageable dolls, 
have picked up that intelligent, clever 
young fellow? Can anyone understand 
these things? No doubt he had hoped 
for happiness, simple, quiet, and long- 
enduring happiness, in the arms of a 
good, tender, and faithful woman; he 
had seen all that in the transparent 
looks of that schoolgirl with light hair- 
He had not dreamed of the fact that 
an active, living, and vibrating man 
grows tired as soon as he has compre- 
hended the stupid reality of a common- 
place life, unless indeed, he becomes so 
brutalized as to be callous to externals. 

What would he be like when I met 
him again? Still lively, witty, light- 
hearted, and enthusiastic, or in a state 
of mental torpor through provincial 
life? A man can change a great deal in 
the course of fifteen years! 



The train stopped at a small station 
and as I got out of the carriage, a stout, 
a very stout man with red cheeks and 
a big stomach rushed up to me with 
open arms, exclaiming: *'George!" 

I embraced him, but I had not recog- 
nized him, and then I said, in astonish- 
ment: "By jove! You have not grown 
thin!" 

And he replied with a laugh: "What 
did you expect? Good living, a good 
table, and good nights! Eating and 
sleeping, that is my existence!" 

I looked at him closely, trying to 
find the features I held so dear in that 
broad face. His eyes alone had not 
altered, but I no longer saw the sam» 
looks in them, and I said to myself: "Jf 
looks be the reflection of the mind, the 
thoughts in that head are not what they 
used to be — those thoughts which I 
knew so well." 

Yet his eyes were bright, full of 
pleasure and friendship, but they had 
not that clear, intelligent expression 
which tells better than do words the 
value of the mind. Suddenly he said to 
me: 

"Here are my two eldest children." 
A girl of fourteen, who was almost a 
woman, and a boy of thirteen, in the 
dress of a pupil from a lycee, came for- 
ward in a hesitating and awkward man- 
ner, and I said in a low voice: "Are 
they yours?" 

"Of course they are," he replied 
laughing. 

"How many have you?" 

"Five! There are three more in- 
doors." 

He said that in a proud, self-satis- 
fied, almost triumphant manner, and I 
felt profound pity, mingled with a feel- 



ZIO 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



ing of vague contempt for this vain- 
glorious and simple reproducer of his 
species, who spent his nights in his 
country house in uxorious pleasures. 

1 got into a carriage, v/hich he drove 
himself, and wc set off through the 
town, a dull, sleepy, gloomy town where 
nothing was moving in the st-eets save 
a few dogs and two or three maidser- 
vants. Here and there a shopkeeper 
standing at his door took off his hat, 
and Simon returned the salute and told 
me the man's name — ^no doubt to show 
me that he knew ail the inhabitants per- 
sonally. The thought struck me that 
he was thinking of becoming a candi- 
date for the Chamber of Deputies, that 
dream of all who have buried them- 
selves in the provinces. 

We were soon out of the town; the 
carriage turned into a garden which had 
some pretensions to a park, and stopped 
in front of a turrctcd house, v/hich tried 
to pass for a "chateau. 

"That is my den," Simon said, so that 
he might be complimented on it, and I 
replied that it vv^as delightful. 

A lady appeared en the steps, dressed 
up for a visitor, her hair done for a 
visitor, and with phrases ready prepared 
for a visitor. She was no longer the 
light-haired, insipid girl I had seen in 
church fifteen years previously, but a 
stout lady in curls and flounces, one of 
those ladies of uncertain age, without 
intellect, without any of thosiO things 
which constitute a woman. In short she 
was a mother, a stout, comm.onplace 
mother, a human layer and brood mare, 
a machine of flesh which procreates, 
without mental care save for her chil- 
Iren and her housekeeping book. 

She welcomed me. and I went into 



the hall, where three children, ranged 
according to their height, were ranked 
for review, like firemen befor*^ a mayor. 
"Ah! ah! so there are the others?" said 
I. And Simon, who was radiant with 
pleasure, named them: "Jean, Sophie, 
and Gontran." 

The door of the drawing-room was 
open. I went in, and in the depths of 
an easy-chair I saw something trem- 
bling, a mail, an old, paralyzed man. 
Madame Radevin came forward and 
said: "This is my grandfather, Mon- 
sieur; he is eighty-seven." And then she 
shouted into the shaking old mans ears: 
"This is a friend of Simon's, grand* 
papa." 

The old gentleman tried to say "Good 
day" to me, and ne -rurtered: "Oui, 
oua, oua," and waved his hand. 

I took a seat saymg: "You are verj 
kind, Monsieur." 

Simon had just come in, and he said 
with a laugh: "So! You have made 
grandpapa's acquaintance. He is price- 
less, is that old man. He is the dehght 
of the children, and he is so greedy that 
he almost kills himself at every meaL 
You have no idea what he would eat if 
he were allowed to do as he pleased. 
E*^t you will see, you will see. He looks 
all the sweets over as if they were so 
m.any girls. You hnve never seen any- 
thing funnier; you will see it presently." 

I was then shown to my room to 
change my dress for dinner, and hearing 
a great clatter behind me on the stairs, 
I turned round a^^d saw that all the 
children were following me behind their 
father— to do me honor, no doubt. 

My windows looked out on to a plain, 
a bare, interminable plain, an ocean of 
grass, of wheat, and of oats without a 



A jbAMILY 



;u 



dump of trees or any rising ground, a 
striking and melancholy picture of the 
life which they must be leading in that 
house. 

A bell rang; it was for dinner, and so 
I went downstairs. Madame Radevin 
took my arm in a ceremonious manner, 
and we went into the dining-room. A 
footman wheeled in the old man's arm- 
chair, who gave a greedy and curious 
V)ok at the dessert, as with difficulty he 
turned his shaking head from one dish 
to the other. 

Simon rubbed his hands, saying: 
^Tou will be amused." Ail the children 
understood that I was going to be in^ 
dulged with the sight of their greed) 
grandfather and they began to laugh 
accordingly, while their mother merely 
smiled and shrugged her shoulders. 
Simon, making a speaking trumpet of 
his hands, shouted at the eld man: 
"This evening there is sweet rice- 
cream," and the wrinkled facj of the 
grandfather brightened, hr trembled 
violently all over, showinp' that he had 
understood and wa« very pleased. The 
dinner began. 

"Just look!" Sii.ion whispered. 
The grandfather did not like the soup, 
and refused to eat i' ; but he was made 
to, on account of YAs health. The foot- 
man forced the i^voo^ ^^to t^s mouth, 
while the eld ma-i blew energetically, so 
as not to swall'^w the soup, which was 
thus scattered like a stream of water 
on to the tab.e and over his neighbors. 
The children shook with delight at the 
spectacle, v/hile their father, who was 
also amusfd, said: "Isn't the old man 
funny?" 

During the whole meal they we^e all 
taken up solely with him. With hrs 



eyes he devourec the uisue^ which were 
put on the table, and with tremblmg 
hands tried to oeize them and pull them 
to him. They put them almost within 
his reach to see his useless efforts, his 
trembling c'.utches at them, the piteous 
appeal of his whole nature, cf his eyes, 
of his :.iouth, and of his nose as he 
smell^J them. He slobbered on to his 
tab' J napkin with eagerness, while utter- 
ir^ inarticulate grunts, and the whole 
iamily was highly amused at this hor- 
rible and grotesque scene. 

Then they put a tiny morsel on to 
his plafe, which he ate with feverish 
gluttony, in order to get something 
more as soon as possible. When the 
rice-cream was brought in, he nearly 
had a fit, and groaned with greediness 
Gontran called out to him: "You have 
eaten too much already; you will have 
no more." And they pretended not to 
give him any. Then he began to cry — 
cry and tremble more violently than 
ever, while all the children laughed. At 
last, however, they gave him his help- 
ing, a very small piece. As he ate the 
Jlrst mouthful of the pudding, he made 
a comical and greedy noise in his throat, 
and a movement with his neck like 
ducks do, when they swallow too large 
a morsel, and then, when he had done, 
he began to stamp his feet, so as to get 
more. 

I was seized with pity for this piti- 
able and ridiculous Tantalus, and inter- 
posed on his behalf: "Please, will you 
not give him a little more rice?" 

But Simon replied: "Oh! no my dear 
fellow, if he were to eat too much, it 
might harm him at his age." 

I held my tongue, and thought ovex 
these words. Oh! ethics! Oh! logic? 



212 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



Oh! wisdom! At his age! So they de- 
prived him of his only remaining 
pleasure out of regard ior his health! 
His health ! What would he do with it, 
inert and trembling wreck that he was? 
They were taking care of his life, so 
they said. His life? How many days? 
Ten, twenty, fifty, or a hundred? Why? 
For his own sake? Or to preserve for 
some time longer, the spectacle of his 
impotent greediness in the family. 

There was nothing left for him to do 
In this life, nothing whatever. He had 
one single wish left, one sole pleasure; 



why not grant him that last solace con- 
stantly, until he died? 

After playing cards for a long time, I 
went up to my room and to bed; I 
was low-spirited and sad, sad, sad! I 
sat at my window, but I heard nothing 
but the beautiful warbling of a bird in 
a tree, somewhere in the distance. No 
doubt the bird was singing thus in a 
low voice during the night, to lull his 
mate, who was sleeping on her eggs. 

And I thought of my poor friend's 
five children, and to myself pictured 
him snoring by the side of his ugly 
wife. 



Bellflower* 



How strange are those old recollec- 
tions which haunt us, without our being 
able to get rid of them! 

This one is so very old that I cannot 
understand how it has clung so vividly 
and tenaciously to my memory. Since 
then I have seen so many sinister things, 
either affecting or terrible, that I am 
astonished at not being able to pass a 
single day without the face of Mother 
Bellflower recurring to my mind's eye, 
just as I knew her formerly long, long 
ago, when I was ten or twelve years old. 

She was an old seamstress who came 
to my parents' house once a week, every 
Thursday, to mend the linen. My parents 
lived in one of those country houses 
called chateax, which are merely old 
houses with pointed roofs, to which are 
attached three or four adjacent farms. 

The village, a large village, almost a 
small market tnwn^ was a few hundred 



yards off, and nestled round the church, 
a red brick church, which had become 
black with age. 

Well, every Thursday Mother Bell- 
flower came between half past six and 
seven in the morning, and went imme- 
diately into the linen-room and began 
to work. She was a tall, thin, bearded 
or rather hairy woman, for she had a 
beard all over her face, a surprising, an 
unexpected beard, growing in improb- 
able tufts, in curly bunches which 
looked as if they had been sown by a 
madman over that great face, the face 
of a gendarme in petticoats. She had 
them on her nose, under her nose, 
round her nose, on her chin, on her 
cheeks; and her eyebrows, which were 
extraordinarily thick and long, and 
quite gray, bushy and bristling, looked 



*Clochette. 



BELLFLOWER 



213 



exactly like a pair of mustaches stuck 
on there by mistake. 

She limped, but not like lame people 
generally do, but like a ship pitching. 
When she planted her great, bony, vi- 
brant body on her sound leg, she seemed 
to be preparing to mount some enor- 
mous wave, and then suddenly she 
dipped as if to disappear in an abyss, 
and buried herself in the ground. Her 
walk reminded one of a ship in a storm, 
and her head, which was always cov- 
ered with an enormous white cap, whose 
ribbons fluttered down her back, seemed 
to traverse the horizon from North to 
South and from South to North, at each 
limp. 

I adored Mother Bellflower. As soon 
as I was up I used to go into the linen- 
room, where I found her installed at 
work, with a foot-warmer under her 
feet. As soon as I arrived, she made me 
take the foot-warmer and sit upon it, so 
that I might not catch cold in that 
large, chilly room under the roof. 

"That draws the blood from your 
head," she would say to me. 

She told me stories, while mending 
the linen with her long, crooked, nimble 
fingers; behind her magnifying spec- 
tacles, for age had impaired her sight, 
her eyes appeared enormous to me, 
strangely profound, double. 

As far as I can remember from the 
things which she told me and by which 
my childish heart was moved, she had 
the large heart of a poor woman. She 
told me what had happened in the 
village, how a cow had escaped from 
the cowhouse and had been found the 
next morning in front of Prosper 
Malet's mill, looking at the sails turn- 
ing, or about a hen's egg which had been 



found in the church belfry without any- 
one being able to understand what 
creature had been there to lay it, or 
the queer story of Jean Pila's dog, who 
had gone ten leagues to bring back his 
master's breeches which a tramp had 
stolen while they were hanging up to 
dry out of doors, after he had been 
caught in the rain. She told me these 
simple adventures in such a manner 
that in my mind they assumed the 
proportions of never-to-be-forgotten 
dramas, of grand and mysterious 
poems; and the ingenious stories in- 
vented by the poets, which my mother 
told me in the evening, had none of the 
flavor, none of the fullness or of the 
vigor of the peasant woman's narra- 
tives. 

Well, one Thursday when I had spent 
all the morning in listening to Mother 
Clochette, I wanted to go upstairs to 
her again during the day, after picking 
hazelnuts with the manservant in the 
wood behind the farm. I remember it 
all as clearly as what happened only 
yesterday. 

On opening the door of the linen- 
room, I saw the old seamstress lying on 
the floor by the side of her chair, her 
face turned down and her arms 
stretched out, but still holding her 
needle in one hand and one of my 
shirts in the other. One of her legs 
in a blue stocking, the longer one no 
doubt, was extended under her chair, 
and her spectacles glistened by the wall, 
where they had rolled away from her. 

I ran away uttering shrill cries. They 
all came running, and in a few minutes 
I was told that Mother Clochette was 
dead. 

I cannot describe the profound, poig- 



214 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



nant, terrible emotion which stirred my 
childish heart. I went slowly down 
into the drawi*ig-room and hid myself 
in a dark corner, in the depttis of a 
great, old armchair, where I knelt and 
wept. I remained there for a long time 
no doubt, for night came on. Suddenly 
some one came in with a lamp — without 
seeing me, however—and I heard my 
father and mother talking with the 
medical man, whose voice I rccognr.ed. 

He had been sent for immediately, 
?nd he was explaining the cause of the 
accident, of which I understood noth- 
ing, however. Then he sat down and 
had a glass of liqueur and a biscuit. 

He went on talking, and what he 
then said will remain engraved on my 
mind until I die! I think that I can 
give the exact words which he used. 

"Ah!" said he, "the poor woman! 
she broke her leg the day of my arrival 
here. I had not even had time to wash 
my hands after getting off the diligence 
before I was sent for in all haste, for 
it was a bad case, very bad. 

"She was seventeen, and a pretty girl, 
very pretty! Would anyone believe it? 
I have never told h2r story before, in 
fact no one but myself and one other 
person, who is no longer living in this 
part of the country, ever knew it. Now 
that she is dead, I may be less discreet. 

"A young assistant teacher had just 
come to live in the village; he was 
good-looking and had the bearing of a 
soldier. All the girls ran after him, but 
he was disdainful. Besides that, he was 
very much afraid of his superior, the 
schoolmaster, old Grabu, who occasion- 
ally got out of bed the wrong foot first. 

"Old Grabu already employed pretty 
flortense, who has just died here, and 



who was afterward nicknamed Clo« 
chette. The assistant master singled 
out the pretty young girl, who was no 
doubt flattered at being chosen by this 
disdainful conqueror; at any rate, she 
fell in love with him, and he succeeded 
in persuading her to give him a first 
meeting in the hayloft behind the 
school, at night after she had done her 
day's sewing. 

"She pretended to go home, but in- 
stead of going downstairs when she left 
the Grabus', she w^ent upstairs and hid 
among the hay, to wait for her lover. 
He soon joined her, and he was be- 
ginning to say pretty things to her, 
when the door of the hayloft opened 
and the schoolmaster appeared, and 
asked: "What are you doing up there, 
Sigisbert?" Feeling sure that he would 
be Caught, the young schoolmaster lost 
his presence cf mind and replied 
stupidly: 'I came up here to rest a 
Lttle among the bundles of hay, Mon- 
lIout Grabu.' 

"The loft was very large and abso- 
lutely • dark. Sigisbert pushed the 
frightened girl to the further end and 
said: 'Go there and hide yourself. I 
shall lose my situation, so get away and 
hide yourself.' 

"When the schoolmaster heard the 
whispering, he continued: 'Why, you 
are not by yourself.' 

" *Yes I am, Monsieur Grabu!* 

'* 'But you are not, for you are talk- 
ing.' 

** 'I swear I am, Monsieur Grabu.' 

" 'I will soon find out,' the old man 
replied, and double-locking the door, 
he went down to get a light. 

"Then the young man, who was a 
coward such as one sometimes meets, 



IN THE WOOD 



n$ 



lost his head, and he repeated, having 
grown furious all of a sudden: 'Hide 
yourself, so that he may not find you. 
You will deprive me of my bread for 
my whole l^fc; you will ruin my whole 
career! Do hide yourself!' 

'They could hear the key turning in 
the lock again, and Hortense ran to 
the window which looked out on to 
the street, opened it quickly, and then 
in a low and determined voice said: 
'You will come and pick me up when 
he is gone,' and she jumped out. 

"Old Grabu found nobody, and went 
down again in great surprise. A quar- 
ter of an hour later, Monsieur Sigisbert 
came to me and related his adventure. 
The girl had remained at the foot of 2he 
wall unable to get up, as she had fallen 
from the second story, and I went with 
him to fetch her. It was raining in tor- 
rents, and I brought the unfortunate 
girl home with me, for the right leg 
was broken in three places, and the 
bones had come out through the flesh. 
She did not complain, and merely said, 
with admirable resignation: 1 am 
punished, well punished!* 

"I sent for assistance and for the 



workgirFs friends and told them a 
made-up story of a runaway carriage 
which had knocked her down and lamed 
her, outside my door. They believed roe, 
and the gendarmes for a whole mvmth 
tried in vain to find the author of this 
accident. 

"That is all! Now I say that this 
woman was a heroine, and had the 
fiber of those who accomplish the 
grandest deeds in history. 

"That was her only love affair, and 
she died a virgin. She v/as a martyr, a 
noble soul, a sublimely devoted woman! 
And if I did not absolutely admire her, 
I should not have told you this storj', 
which I would never tell anyone during 
her life: you understand why." 

The doctor ceased; mamma cried 
and papa said some words which I did 
not catch; then they left the room, and 
I remained on my knees in the armchair 
and sobbed, while I heard a strange 
noise of heavy footsteps and something 
knocking against the side of the stair- 
case. 

They were carrying away Clochette's 
body. 



In the Wood 



The mayor was just going to sit 
down to breakfast, when he was told 
that the rural policeman was waiting for 
him at the mairie, with two prisoners. 
He went there immediately, and found 
Old Hochedur standing up and watch- 
ing a middle-class couple of mature 
years with stern looks. 



The man, a fat old fellow with a red 
nose and white hair, seemed utterly- 
dejected; while the woman, a little 
roundabout, stout creature, with shining 
cheeks, looked at the agent who had 
arrested them with defiant eyes. 

"What is it? What is it, Hochedur?" 
The rural policeman made his deo- 



216 

osition. He had gone out that morn- 
ing at his usual time, in order to patrol 
his beat from the forest of Champioux 
as far as the boundaries of Argentcuil. 
He had not noticed anything unusual 
in the country except that it was a 
fine day, and that the wheat was doing 
well, when the son of old Bredel, who 
was going over his vines a second time, 
called out to him: "Here, daddy Hoche- 
dur, go and have a look into the skirts 
of the wood, in the first thicket, and 
you will catch a pair of pigeons there 
who must be a hundred and thirty years 
old between them!" 

He went in the direction that had 
been indicated to him, and had gone 
into the thicket. There he heard words 
and gasps, which made him suspect a 
flagrant breach of morality. Advancing, 
therefore, on his hands and knees as if 
to surprise a poacher, he had arrested 
this couple, at the very moment v/hen 
they were going to abandon themselves 
to their natural instincts. 

The mayor looked at the culprits in 
astonishment, for the man was cer- 
tainly sixty, and the woman fifty-five at 
least. So he began, to question them, 
beginning with the man, who replied in 
such a weak voice, that he could 
scarcely be heard. 

"What is your name?" 

"Nicolas Beaurain." 

"Your occupation?" 

"Haberdasher, in the Rue des Mar- 
trys, in Paris." 

"What were you doing in the wood?" 

The haberdasher remained silent, 
with his eyes on his fat stomach, and 
his hands resting on his thighs, and the 
mayor continued: 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



"Do you deny what the of&cer of the 
municipal authorities states?" 

"No, Monsieur." 

"So you confess it?" 

"Yes, Monsieur." 

"What have you to say In your de- 
fense?" 

"Nothing, Monsieur." 

"Where did you meet the partner in 
your misdemeanor?" 

"She is my wife, Monsieur." 

"Your wife?" 

"Yes, Monsieur." 

"Then — then — you do not live to- 
gether in Paris?" 

"I beg your pardon, Monsieur, but 
we are living together!" 

"But in that case you must be mad, 
altogether mad, my dear sir, to get 
caught like that in the country at ten 
o'clock in the morning." 

The haberdasher seemed ready to cry 
with shame, and he murmured: "It was 
she who enticed me! I told her it was 
stupid, but when a woman has got a 
thing into her head, you know, you can- 
not get it out." 

The mayor, who liked open speaking, 
smiled and replied: 

"In your case, the contrary ought to 
have happened. You would not be 
here, if she had had the idea only in 
her head." 

Then Monsieur Beaurain was seized 
with rage, and turning to his wife, he 
said: "Do you see to what you have 
brought us with your poetry? And 
now we shall have to go before the 
Courts, at our age, for a breach of 
morals! And we shall have to shut up 
the shop, sell our good-will, and go to 
some other neighborhood! That's what 
it has come to!" 



IN THE woorr 



ii> 



Madame Beaurain got up, and with- 
out looking at her husband, explained 
herself without any embarrassment, 
without useless modesty, and almost 
without hesitation. 

"Of course, Monsieur, I know that we 
have made ourselves ridiculous. Will 
you allow me to plead my cause hke an 
advocate, or rather like a poor woman; 
and I hope that you will be kind enough 
to send us home, and to spare us the 
disgrace of a prosecution. 

"Years ago, when I was young, I 
made Monsieur Beaurain's acquain- 
tance on Sunday in this neighborhood. 
He was employed in a draper's shop, 
and I was a saleswoman in a ready-made 
clothing establishment. I remember it, 
as if it were yesterday. I used to come 
and spend Sundays here occasionally 
with a friend of mine. Rose Leveque, 
with whom I lived in the Rue Pigalle, 
and Rose had a sweetheart, while I had 
not. He used to bring us here, and one 
Saturday, he told me laughing, that he 
should bring a friend with him the next 
day. I quite understood what he 
meant, but I replied that it would be 
no good; for 1 was virtuous. Monsieur. 

"The next day we met Monsieur 
Beaurain at the railway station. In 
those days he was good-looking, but I 
had made up my mind not to yield to 
him, and I did not yield. Well, we 
arrived at Bezons. It was a lovely day, 
the sort of day that tickles your heart. 
When it is fine even now, just as it 
used to be formerly, I grow quite 
foolish, and when I am in the country, I 
.utterly lose my head. The verdure, the 
swallows flying so swiftly, the smell of 
the grass, the scarlet poppies, the 
daisies, all that makes me quite excited! 



It is like champagne when one is not 
used to it! 

"Well, it was lovely weather, warm 
and bright, and it seemed to penetrate 
into your body by your eyes when you 
looked, and by your mouth when you 
breathed. Rose and Simon hugged ana 
kissed each other every minute, and 
that gave me something to look at! 
Monsieur Beaurain and I walked behind 
them, without speaking much, for when 
people do not know each other well, 
they cannot find much to talk about 
He looked timid, and I liked to see his 
embarrassment. At last we got to the 
little wood; it was as cool as in a bath 
there, and we all four sat down. Rose 
and her lover joked me because I looked 
rather stern, but you will understand 
that I could not be otherwise. And 
then they began to kiss and hug again, 
without putting any more restraint upon 
themselves than if we had not been 
there. Then they whispered together, 
and got up and went off among the trees 
without saying a word. You may fancy 
how I felt, alone with this young fellow 
whom I saw for the first time. I felt 
so confused at seeing them go that it 
gave me courage and I began to talk. 
I asked him what his business was, and 
he said he was a linen draper's assistant, 
as I told you just now. We talked for 
a few minutes and that made him bold, 
and he wanted to take liberties with me, 
but I told him sharply to keep his own 
place. Is not that true. Monsieur Beau- 
rain?" 

Monsieur Beaurain, who was looking 
at his feet in confusion, did not reply, 
and she continued : "Then he saw that I 
was virtuous, and he began to make 
love to me nicely, like an honorable 



218 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



man, ana from that time he came every 
Sunday, for he was very much in love 
wilh mc. I was very fond of him also, 
very fond of him! He was a good-look- 
ing fellow, formerly, and in short he 
married me the next September, and we 
started business in the Rue dcs Martyrs. 

"It was a hard struggle for some 
years, Monsieur. Business did not 
prosper, and we could not afford many 
country excursions, and then we be- 
came unaccustomed to them. One has 
other things in one's head and things 
more of the cash box than of pretty 
speeches when one is in business. We 
were growing old by degrees without 
perceiving it, like quiet people who do 
not think much about love. Eut one 
does not regret anything as long as one 
does not notice what one has lost. 

"And after that, Monsieur, business 
went better, and we became tranquil as 
to the future! Then, you see, I do not 
exactly know whnt passed v'ithin me — 
no, I really do not know, but I began 
to dream like a little boarding-school 
girl. The sight of the Kttle carts full of 
lowers which are peddled about the 
streets made me cy; the smell of 
violets sought me cut in my easy-chair, 
behind my cash box, and made my heart 
beat! Then I used tc get up and go on 
to the doorstep to lock at the blue sky 
between the roofs. When one looks at 
the sky from a street, it seems like a 
river flowing over Paris, winding as it 
goes, and the swallows pass to and fro 
in it like fish. These sort of things are 
very stupid at my age! But what can 
one do, Monsieur, when one has worked 
Ul one's life? A moment comes in 



which one perceives that one could have 
done something else, and then, one re- 
grets, oh! yes, one feels great regret! 
Just think that for twenty years I might 
have gone and had kisses in the woods, 
like other v;omen. I used to think how 
delightful it would be to lie under the 
trees, loving some one! And I thought 
of it every day and every night! I 
dreamed of the moonlight on the water, 
until I felt inclined ta drown myself. 

*'I did not venture to speak to Mon- 
sieur Beaurain about this at first. I 
knew that he would make fun of me, 
and send me back to sell my needles 
and cotton! And then, to speak the 
truth, Monsieur Beaurain never said 
much to me, but when I looked in the 
glass, I also understood quite well that 
I also no longer appealed to anyone! 

"Well, I made up my mind, and 1 
proposed an excursion into the country 
to him, to the place where we had first 
become acquainted. He agreed without 
any distrust, and we arrived here this 
morning, about nine o'clock. 

"I felt quite young again when I got 
among the corn, for a woman's heart 
never grows old! And really, I no 
longer saw my husband as he is at 
present, but just like he was formerly! 
That I will swear to ycu. Monsieur. As 
true as I am standing here, I was in- 
toxicated. I began to kiss him, and he 
was niore surprised than if 1 had tried 
to murder him. He kept saying to me: 
'Why, you must be mad this morning? 
What is the matter with you — ' I did 
not listen to him, I only listened to my 
own heart, and I made him come into 
the wood with me. There is the story. 



THE MARQUIS DE FUMEROL 



Z19 



I have spoken the truth, Monsieur le 
Maire, the whole truth." 
The mayor was a sensible man. He 



rose from his chair, smiled, and said: 
"Go in peace, Madame, and sin no 
more — under the trees." 



The Marquis de Fumerol 



Roger de Toumevillf v;as sitting 
astride a chair in the midst of his 
friends and talking; he helc. a cigar in 
his hand, aid from time to time took 
a whiff and blew out a small cloud of 
smoke. 

"We were at dinner when a letter was 
brought in, and my father opened it. 
You knew rr\y f::thcr, who thinks that 
he is king of France ad interim. I call 
him Don Quixote, because for twelve 
years he has been running a tilt against 
the windmill of the Republic, without 
quite knowing whether it was in the 
name of Bourbon or of Orleans. At 
present he is holding the lance in the 
name of Orleans alone, because there is 
nobody else left. In any case, he thinks 
himself the first gentleman in France, 
the best known, the most influential, the 
head of the party; and as he is an irre- 
movable senator, he thinks that the 
neighborinfT kings* thrones are very 
insecure. 

'•'As f^i my mother, she is my father's 
inspiration, the soul cf the kingdom and 
of religion, the right arm of God on 
earth, and the scourge cf cvil-thinkers. 

"Well, this letter was brought in while 
we were at dinner. My father opened 
and read it, and then he said to my 
mother: *Your brother is dying.' She 
grew very pale. My uncle was scarcely 
ever mentioned ia the Uouse. and I did 



not know him at all; all 1 knew from 
public talk was that he had led, and was 
stiL 'eading, the life of a buffoon. After 
having spent his fortune wJlh an incal- 
culable number of women, he had only 
retained two mistresses, with whom he 
was living in small apartments in the 
R-ue des Martyrs. 

"An ex-peer of France and cx-colonel 
of cavalry, it was said that he believed 
in neither God nor devil. Having no 
faith, therefore, in a future life he had 
abused this present life in every way, 
and had become a living wound to my 
mother's heart. 

' 'Give me that letter, Paul,' she said, 
and when she had read it, I asked for it 
in my turn. Here it is: 

" 'Monsieur le Comtc : I think I 
ought to let you know that your brother- 
in-law, Count Fumerol, is going to die. 
Perhaps you would make preparations 
and not forget that I toI:l you. 

"Your servant, Melani.' 

" 'We must think,' my father mur- 
mured. 'In my position, I ought to 
watch over your brother's last mo- 
ments.' 

"My mother continued: 'I will send 
for Abbe Poivron and ask his advice, 
and then I will go to m.y brother's with 
him and Roger. Stop here, Paul, for 
you must not compromise yourself: but 
a woman can, and ought, to do these 



220 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



things. For a politician in your posi- 
tion, it is another matter. It would be 
a fine thing for one of your opponents 
to be able to bring one of your most 
laudable actions up against you.' 

" 'You are right!' my father said. *Do 
as you think best, my dear wife.' 

"A quarter of an hour later, the 
Abbe Poivron came into the drawing- 
room, and the situation was explained to 
him, analyzed, and discussed in all its 
bearings. If the Marquis de Fumerol, 
one of the greatest names in France, 
were to die without the succor of reli- 
gion, it would assuredly be a terrible 
blow to the r.obility in general, to the 
Count de Toumeville in particular, and 
the free thinkers would be triumphant. 
The evilly disposed newspapers would 
^ing songs of victory for six months; 
ray mother's name would be dragged 
through the mire and brought into the 
slander of Socialistic journals, and my 
father's would be bespattered. It was 
impossible that such a thing should 
occur. 

"A crusade was therefore immediately 
decided upon, which was to be led by 
the Abbe Poivron, a little fat, clean, 
slightly-scented priest, the faithful vicar 
af a large church in a rich and noble 
quarter. 

"The landau was ordered and we 
three started, my mother, the cure, and 
I, to administer the last sacraments to 
my uncle. 

"It had been decided that first of all 
we should see Madame Melani who had 
written the letter, and who was most 
likely the porter's wife or my uncle's 
servant, and 1 got down as a scout in 
front of a seven-storied house and went 
into a dark passage, where I had great 



difficulty in finding the porter's den. He 
looked at me distrustfully, and I said: 

" 'Madame Melani, if you please.' 

"'Don't know her!' 

" 'But I have received a letter from 
her.' 

" 'That may be, but I don't know her. 
Are you asking for some kept woman?' 

" *No, a servant probably. She wrote 
me about a place.' 

" 'A servant — a servant? Perhaps it 
is the Marquis's. Go and see, the fifth 
story on the left.* 

"As soon as he found I was not asking 
for a kept woman, he became more 
friendly and came as far as the passage 
with me. He was a tall, thin man with 
white whiskers, the manners of a beadle, 
and majestic in movement. 

"I climbed up a long spiral staircase, 
whose balusters I did not venture to 
touch, and I gave three discreet knocks 
at the left-hand door on the fifth story. 
It opened immediately, and an enor- 
mous dirty woman appeared before me, 
who barred the entrance with her open 
arms, which she placed upon the two 
doorposts, and grumbled out: 

" 'What do you want?' 

" 'Are you Madame Melani?' 

" 'Yes.' 

" T am the Viscount de Toumeville.* 
"'Ah! All right! Come in.' 
" 'Well, the fact is, my mother is 
downstairs with a priest.' 

"'Oh! All right; go and bring them 
up; but take care of the porter.' 

"I went downstairs and came up 
again with my mother, who was fol- 
lowed by the abbe, and I fancie*^ that 
I heard other footsteps behind us. As 
soon as we were in the kitchen, M61ani 



THE MARQUIS DE FUMEROL 



U\ 



offered us chairs, and we all four sat 
down to deliberate. 

" 'Is he very ill?' My mother asked. 

" *0h! yes, Madame; he will not be 
here long.* 

" 'Does he seem disposed to receive 
a visit from a priest?' 

" 'Oh! I do not think so.* 

" 'Can I see him?' 

" 'Well — ^yes — Madame — only — only 
• — those young ladies are with him.' 

" 'What young ladies?' 

" 'Why — why — ^his lady friends, of 
course.' 

"'Oh!' Mamma had grown scarlet, 
and the Abbe Poivron had lowered his 
eyes. 

"The affair began to amuse me, and I 
said: 'Suppose I go in first? I shall see 
how he receives me, and perhaps I shall 
be able to prepare his heart for you.' 

"My mother, who did not suspect any 
trick, replied: 'Yes, go my dear.' 

"But a woman's voice cried out: 
'Melani!' 

"The fat servant ran out and said: 
*What do you want, Mademoiselle 
Claire?' 

" 'The omelet, quickly.' 

" 'In a minute, Mademoiselle.' And 
coming back to us, she explained this 
summons. 

" 'They ordered a cheese omelet at 
two o'clock as a slight collation.' And 
immediately she began to break eggs 
into a salad bowl, and began to whip 
them vigorously, while I went out on 
to the landing and pulled the bell, so as 
to announce my ofi&cial arrival. Melani 
opened the door to me, and made me 
sit down in an anteroom, while she went 
to telj my uncle that I had come. Then 
slie came back and asked me to go in, 



while the abbe hid behina the door, so 
that he might appear at the first sign. 

"I was certainly very much surprised 
at seeing my uncle, for he was very 
handsome, very solemn, and very ele- 
gant — the old rake. 

"Sitting, almost lying in a large arm- 
chair, his legs wrapped in blankets, with 
his hands, his long, white hands over the 
arms of the chair, he was waiting for 
death with Biblical dignity. His white 
beard fell on his chest, and his hair, 
which was also white, mingled with it 
on his cheeks. 

"Standing behind his armchair, as if 
to defend him against me, were two 
young women, two stout young women, 
who looked at me with the bold eyes ox 
prostitutes. In their petticoats and 
morning wrappers, with bare arms, with 
coal-black hair twisted up on to the 
napes of their necks, with embroidered 
Oriental slippers which showed their 
ankles and silk stockings, they looked 
like the immoral figures of some sym- 
bolical painting, by the side of the dying 
man. Between the easy-chair and the 
bed, there was a table covered with a 
white cloth, on which two plates, two 
glasses, two forks, and two knives, were 
waiting for the cheese omelet which had 
been ordered some time before of 
Melani. 

"My uncle said in a weak, almost 
breathless, but clear voice: 'Good morn- 
ing, my child: it is rather late in the 
day to come to see me; our acquain- 
tanceship will not last long.' 

"I stammered out: 'It was not my 
fault, uncle'; and he replied: 'No; I 
know that. It is your father's and 
mother's fault more than yours. Ho"Vi 
are they?' 



Ul 



WORKS OY GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



" 'Pretty well, thank you. When 
they heard that you were ill, they sent 
me to ask after you.' 

" 'Ah ! Why did they not come them- 
selves?' 

"I looked up at the two girls and said 
gently: 'It is not their fault if they 
could not come, uncle. But it would be 
difficult for my father, and impossible 
for my mother to come in here.' The 
old man did not reply, but raised his 
hand toward mine, and I took the pale, 
cold hand and kept it in my own. 

"The door opened, Mclani came in 
with the omelet and put it on the table, 
and the two girls immediately sat down 
in front of their plates and began to eat 
without taking their eyes oft" me. 

"TheD I said: 'Uncle, it would be a 
great pleasure for my mother to em- 
brace you.' 

" T also — ' he murmured, *should 
like — ' He said no more, and I could 
think of nothing to propose to him, and 
nothing more was heard except the 
noise of Iha plates and the slight sound 
of eating mouths. 

"Mow the abbe, who was listening be- 
hind thf. door, seeing our embarrass- 
ment, and thinking we had won the 
game, thought the time had come to in- 
terpose, and showed himself. My undo 
was so stupefied at that apparition, that 
at first he remained motionless; then he 
opened his mouth as if he meant to 
swallow up the priest, and cried out in. 
a strong, deep, furious voice: 'What are 
you doing here?' 

"The abbe, v.ho was used to difficult 
situations, came forv.'ard, murmuring: 
*I have come in your sister^s name, 
Monsieur le Marquis; she has sent me 
^-she would be so happy. Monsieur — ' 



"But the Marquis was not listening. 
Raising one hand, he pointed to the 
door with a proud and tragic gesture, 
and said angrily and gasping for breath: 
'Leave this room — go oul — robber of 
souls. Go out from here, you violator 
of consciences! Go out from here, you 
picklock of dying men's doors!' 

"The abDe went backward, and I too, 
went to the door, beating a retreat with 
him; and the two Kttie women, who 
v;ere avenged, got up, leaving their 
omelet half eaten, and stood on either 
side of my uncle's armchair, putting 
their hands on his arm.s to calm him. 
and to protect him against the criminal 
enterprises of the Family ani of Reli- 
gion. 

"The abbe and I rejoined my mother 
in the kitchen, and Melani again offered 
us chairs. 'I knew quite well that you 
v/ould fail that way; we must try some 
other means, otherwise he will escape 
us.* And we began deliberating afresh, 
my mother being of one opinion and the 
abbe of another, while I held a third. 

"We had been discussing the matter 
in a low voice for half an fiour, per- 
haps, when a great noise of furniiure 
being moved and of cries uttered by my 
uncle, more vehement and terrible even 
than the former had been, made us all 
jump up. 

"Through the doors and walls we 
could hear him shouting: 'Go out — out 
—rascals — ^humbugs; get out, scoun- 
drels — get out — get out!' 

Melani rushed in, but came back im- 
mediately to call me to help her, and I 
hastened in. Opposite to my uncle who 
was terribly excited by anger, almost 
standing up and vociferating, two^ men, 
one behind the other, seemed to be wait* 



THE MARQUIS DE FUMEROL 



223 



ing till he should be dead with lage. 

"By his long, ridiculous coat, his 
pointed English choes, bv his manners, 
— like tho32 of a tutor out of a situa- 
tion, — by his high collar, white necktie 
and straight hair, by his humble face, I 
immediately recognized the first as a 
Protestant minister. 

"The second ^vas the porter of the 
house, who belonged to the Reformed 
rehgion and had followed us. Having 
known of our d2feat he had gone to 
fetch his own pastor, in hope of a bet- 
ter fate. My uncle seemed mad with 
rage! If the sight of the Catholic 
priest, of the pr:er,t cf his ancestors, had 
irritated the Marquis de Fumerol, who 
had become a freethinker, the sight of 
his porter's minister made him alto- 
gether beside aimself. I therefore took 
the two men by the arm and threw 
them out of the room so violently that 
they fell up against each other twice, be- 
tween the two doors which led to the 
staircase; then I disappeared in my turn 
and returned to the kitchen, which was 
our headquarters, in order to take coun- 
sel with my mother and the abbe. 

*'But Mcl?ni came back in terror, 
sobbing out: 'He is dying — ^he ib dying 
— come immediately — ^he is dying.' 

"My mother rushed out. My uncle 
had fallen on to the carpet, full length 
along the floor, and did not move. I 
fancy he was already dead. My mother 
was superb at that moment! She went 
straight up to the two girls who were 
kneeling by the body and trying to raise 
it up, and pointing to the door with 
irresistible authority, dignity, and 
majesty, she said: *Now it is for you to 
go cut.' 

"And they went out without o. pro- 



test, and without saying a word. I 
must add that I was getring ready to 
turn them out as unceremoniously as I 
had dene, the parson and the porter. 

"Then the Abbe Poivron administered 
extreme unction to my uncle with all 
the customary prayers and remilici all 
his sins, while my mother sobbed, kneel- 
ing near her brother. Suddenly, how- 
ever, she exclaimed: *He recognized 
mc; he pressed my hand; I am s.:re he 
recognized me and thanked mc! Oh, 
God, what hr.ppiness!' 

"Poor mamma! If she b?,d known 
or guessed to whom those thank- ought 
to have been addressed! 

"They laid m.y uncle on his bed; he 
was certainly dead that time. 

" 'Madame,' Mclani said, 'we have no 
sheets to bury him in; all the linen be- 
longs to those two young ladies/ and 
when I looked at the omelet which they 
had not finished, I felt inclined to laugh 
and to cry at the same time. There are 
some strange moments and some 
strange sensations in Hfe, occasionally! 

"We gave my uncle a magnificent 
funeral, v/ith five speeches at the grave* 
Baron de Croiselles, the Senator, 
showed in admirable terms, that God al- 
ways returns victorious into wcU-boin 
souls which have gone astray for a mo- 
ment. All the members of the P^oyalist 
and Catholic party followed the funeral 
procession with triumphant enthusiasm, 
speaking of that beautiful death, after 
a somewhat restless life." 

Viscount Roger ceased speaking, and 
those around him laughed. Then some- 
body said: "Bah! That is the story i>i 
all conversions in extremis." 



Saved 



The little Maquise de Rennedon 
came rushing in like a ball through the 
window. She began to laugh before she 
spoke, to laugh till she cried, like she 
had done a month previously, when she 
had told her friend that she had be- 
trayed the Marquis in order to have her 
revenge, but only once, just because he 
was really too stupid and too jealous. 

The little Baroness de Grangerie had 
thrown the book which she was reading 
on to the sofa, and looked at Annette, 
curiously. She was already laughing 
herself, and at last she asked: 

"What have you been doing now?" 

"Oh! my dear! — my dear! it is too 
funny — too funny. Just fancy — I am 
saved ! — saved ! — saved ! " 

"How do you mean, saved?'* 

"Yes, saved!" 

"From what?" 

"From my husband, my dear, saved! 
Delivered! free! free! free!" 

"HoYj free? In what?" 

"In what? Divorce! yes a divorce! 
1 have my divorce!" 

"You are divorced?" 

"No, not yet; how stupid you are! 
One does not get divorced in three 
hours! But I have my proofs that he 
has deceived me — caught in the very act 
— just think! — in the very act. I have 
got him tight." 

"Oh! do tell me all about it! So be 
deceived you?" 

"Yes, that is to say no — ^yes and no — 
I do not know. At any rate, I have 
proofs, and that is the chief thing." 

"How did you manage it?" 

"How did I manage it? This is how! 
I have been energetic, very energetic. 
For the last three months he has been 



odious, altogether odious, brutal, coarse^ 
a despot — ^in one word, vile. So I saicf 
to myself: This cannot last, I must 
have a divorce! But how? — for it is 
not ve^y easy. I tried to make him 
beat me, but he would not. He vexed 
me from morning till night, made me 
go out when I did not wish to, and to 
remain at home when I wanted to dine 
out; he made my life unbearable for 
me from one week's end to the other, 
but he never struck me. 

"Then I tried to find out whether he 
had a mistress Yes, he had one, but he 
took a thousand precautions in going to 
see her, and they could never be caught 
together. Guess what I did then?" 

"I cannot guess." 

"Oh! you could never guess. I asked 
my brother to procure me a photograph 
of the creature." 

"Of your husband's mistress?" 

"Yes. It cost Jacques fifteen louis,* 
the price of an evening, from seven 
o'clock till midnight, including a dinner, 
at three louis an hour, and he obtained 
the photograph into the bargain.* 

"It appears to me that he might have 
obtained it anyhow by means of some 
artifice and without — ^without — ^without 
being obliged to take the original at the 
same time." 

"Oh! she is pretty, and Jacques did 
not mind the least. And then, I wanted 
some details about her, physical details 
about her figure, her breast, her com- 
plexion, a thousand things, in fact." 

"I do not understand you." 

"You shall see. When I had learned 
all that I wanted to know, I went to a 



*60. 



77 



'i^ 



SAVED 



22S 



'—how shall I put it — to a man of bus- 
iness — you know — one of those men 
who transact business of all sorts — 
agents of — of — of publicity and com- 
plicity — one of those men — well, you 
understand what I mean." 

'Tretty nearly, I think. And what 
did you say to him?" 

"I said to him, showing the photo- 
graph of Clarisse (her name is 
Clarisse): 'Monsieur, I want a lady's 
maid who resembles this photograph. I 
require one who is pretty, elegant, neat, 
and sharp. I will pay her whatever is 
necessary, and if it costs me ten thou- 
sand francs* so much the worse. I 
shall not require her for more than 
three months.' 

"The man looked extremely aston- 
ished, and said: 'Do you require a maid 
jof an irreproachable character, Ma- 
Idame?' I blushed and stammered: 'Yes 
of course, for honesty.' He continued: 
*And — then — as regards morals?' I did 
not venture to reply, so I only made a 
sign with mv head which signified No. 
Then sudaerxly, I comprehended that he 
had a horrible suspicion and losing my 
presence of mind, 1 exclaimed: 'Oh! 
Monsieur, — it is for my husband, in 
order that I mav surDrise him.' 

*Then the man began to laugh, and 
from his looks I gathered that I had re- 
gamed his esteem. He -^v^n thought I 
was brave, and I would willingly have 
made a bet that at that moment he was 
longing to shake hands wi\h me. How- 
ever, he said to me: *In a week Ma- 
dame, I shall have what you require; I 
will answer for my success, and you 
shall not pay me until I have succeeded. 
So this IS a photograph of your hus- 
band's mistress?' 



" 'Yes, Monsieur.* 

" 'A handsome woman, and not too 
stout. And what scent?' 

"I did not understand, and repeated: 
'What scent?' 

"He smiled: 'Yes, Madame, per- 
fume is essential in tempting a man, for 
it unconsciously brings to his mind cer- 
tain reminiscences which dispose him to 
action; the perfume creates an obscure 
confusion in his mind, and disturbs and 
energizes him by recalling his pleasures 
to him. You must also try to find out 
what your husband is in the habit of 
eating when he dines with his lady, and 
you might give him the same dishes the 
day you catch him. Oh! we have got 
him, Madame, we have got him.* 

"I went away delighted, for here I 
had lighted on a very intelligent man. 

"Three days later, I saw a tall, dark 
girl arrive at my house; she was very 
handsome, and her looks were modest 
and bold at the same time, the peculiar 
look of a female rake. She behaved 
very properly toward me, and as I did 
not exactly know what she was, I called 
her Mademoiselle, but she said imme- 
diately: 'Oh! pray, Madame, only call 
me Rose.* And she began to talk. 

" 'Well, Rose, you know why you 
have come here?' 

" *I can guess it, Madame.* 

" 'Very good, my girl — and that will 
not be too much bother for you?' 

"'Oh! Madame, this will be the 
eighth divorce that I shall have caused; 
I am used to it.* 

" 'Why, that is capital. Will it take 
you long to succeed?' 

" 'Oh! Madame, that depends en 



*$2000. 



226 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



tireiy on Monsieur's temperament. 
When I have seen Monsieur for five 
minutes alone, 1 shall be able to tell 
you exactly.' 

" 'You will see him soon, my child, 
but I must tell you that he is not hand- 
some.' 

" That does not matter to me, Ma- 
dame. I have already separated some 
very ugly ones. But I must ask you 
Madame, whether you have discovered 
his favorite perfume?' 

" *Yes, Rose — verbena.* 

" 'So much the better, Madame, for 
I am also very fond of that scent! Can 
you also tell me, Madame, whether 
Monsieur's mistress wears silk under- 
clothing and nightdresses?* 

*' 'No, my child, cambric and lace.* 

"'Oh! then she is altogether of su- 
perior station, fcr s'lk underclothing is 
getting quite ccmmcn.* 

" 'What you say is quite true!* 

" 'Well, Madame, I will enter your 
service.' And so as a matter cf fact she 
did immediately, and as if she had done 
nothing che all her life. 

"An hour later my husband came 
home. Rcse did not even raise her eyes 
to him, but he raised his eyes to her. 
She already smelled strongly of ver- 
bena. In five minutes she left the 
room, and he immediately asked me: 
•Who is that girl?* 

" 'Why — iry new lady's maid.* 

" 'Where did you pick her up?* 

"'Bareness d2 Grangerie got her for 
me with the best references.* 

"'Ah! she is rather pretty!* 

" 'Do ycu think so?* 

" 'Why, yes — for a lady's maid.* 

"I was delighted, for I felt that he 
was already biting, and that same eve- 



ning Rose said to me: 'I can novf 
promise you that it will not take more 
than a fortnight, Monsieur is very easily 
caught!' 

" 'Ah! you have tried already?' 

" 'No, Madame, he only asked what 
my name was, so that he might hear 
what my voice was like.' 

" 'Very well, my dear Rose. Get on 
as quick as you can.' 

"'Do not be alarmed, Madame; I 
chall only resist long enough not to 
make myself depreciated.' 

"At the end cf a week, my husband 
scarcely ever went out; I saw him 
roaming about the house the whole af- 
ternoon, and what was most significant 
in the matter was that he no longer pre- 
vented me from going out. And I, I 
was out of doors nearly the whole day 
long — ^in order — in order to leave him 
at liberty. 

"On the ninth day, while Rcse waa 
undressing me, she said to me with a 
timid air: 'It happened this morning, 
Madame.* 

"I was rather surprised, or rather 
overcome even, not at the part itself, 
but at the way in which she told me, 
and I stammered out: 'And — and — it 
went off well?* 

'*'Oh! yes, very well, Madame. For 
the last three days he has been pressing 
me, but I did not wish matters to pro- 
ceed too quickly. You will tell me 
when ycu want us to be caught, Ma- 
dame.* 

'* 'Yes, certainly. Here! let us say 
Thursday.' 

" 'Very well, Madame, I shall grant 
nothing more till then, so '^s to keep 
Monsieur on the alert.' 

" 'You are sure not to fail?* 



THE SIGNAL 



227 



"*0h! qujie sure, Madame. I will 
excite him, so as to make him be there 
at the very moment which you may 
appoint.' 

" 'Let us say five o'clock then.' 

" 'Very well, Madame, and where?* 

" 'Well — in my bedroom.' 

" 'Very good, Madame, in your bed- 
room.' 

" 'You will understand what I did 
then, my dear. I went and fetched 
mamma and papa first cf all, and then 
my uncle d'Orvelin, the President, and 
Monsieur Raplct, the Judge, my hus- 
band's friend. I had not told them v/hat 
I was going to show them, but I made 
them all go on tiptoe as far as the door 
of my room, I waited till five o'clock 
exactly, and oh ! how my heart beat ! I 
had made the porter come upstairs as 
well, so as to have an additional wit- 
ness! And then — and th?n at the mo- 
ment when the clock began to strike, 
I opened the door wide. Ah! ah! ah! 



Here he was evidently — it was quite 
evident, my dear. Oh! what a head! 
If you had only seen his head ! And he 
turned round, the idiot i Oh ! how funny 
he looked — I laughed, I laughed. And 
papa was angry and wanted to give my 
husband a beating. And the porter, a 
good servant helped him to dress him- 
self before U3 — before U3. H3 but- 
toned his braces for him — what a joke 
it was! As for Rose, she was perfect, 
absolutely perfect. She cried — ch! she 
cried very well. She is an invaluable 
girl. If you ever want her, don't for- 
get! 

"And here I am. I ^amc immedi* 
ately to tell you of the affair directly. 
I am free. Long live divorce!" 

And sh2 began to dance in the middle 
of the drawing-room, while the little 
Baroness, who was thoughtful and put 
cut, said: 

"Why did you not invite me to see 
it?" 



The Signal 



The little Marchioness de Rennedon 
was still asleep ia her dark and per- 
fumed bedroom. 

In her soft, low bed, between sheets: 
of delicate cambric, fine as lace and 
caressing as a kiss, she was sleeping 
alone and tranquil, the happy and pro- 
found sleep of divorced women. 

She was awakened by loud voices in 
the little blue drawing-room, and she 
recognized her dear friend, the little 
Baroness de Grangerie, who was dis- 
puting with the lady's maid, because the 



latter would not allow her to go into 
the Marchioness's room. So tiie little 
Marchioness got up, opened the door, 
drew back the door-hangings and showed 
her head, nothing Lut her fair head, 
hidden under a cloud of hair. 

"What is the matter with you, that 
you have come so early?" she asked. 
"It is not nine o'clock yet." 

The little Baroness, who was very 
pale, nervous, and feverish, replied: "I 
must speak to you. Something horrIU< 
has happened to me." 



Z2S 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



*'Come in, my dear." 

She went in, they kissed each other 
and the little Marchioness got back into 
her bed", while the lady's maid opened 
the windows to let in light and air. Then 
when she had left the room, Madame de 
Rennedon went on: "Well, tell me 
what it is." 

Madame de Grangerie began to cry, 
shedding those pretty bright tears which 
make women more charming. She 
sobbed out, without wiping her eyes, 
so as not to make them red: "Oh, my 
dear, what has happened to me is abom- 
i;qable, abominable. I have not slept all 
night, not a minute; do you hear, not 
a minute. Here, just feel my heart, 
how it is beating." 

And taking her friend's hand, she put 
it on her breast, on that firm, round 
covering of women's hearts which often 
sufiices men, and prevents them from 
seeking beneath. But her heart was 
really beating violently. 

She continued: "It happened to me 
yesterday during the day, at about four 
o'clock — or half past four; I cannot say 
exactly. You know my apartments, 
and you know that my little drawing- 
room, where I always sit, looks on to the 
Rue Saint-Lazare, and that I have a 
mania for sitting at the window to 
look at the people passing. The neigh- 
borhood of the railway station is very 
gay; so full of motion and lively — just 
what I like! So, yesterday, I was sit- 
ting in the low chair which I have placed 
in my window recess; the window was 
open and I was not thinking of any- 
thing, simply breathing the fresh air. 
You remember how fine it was yester- 
day! 

"Suddenly. I remarked a woman sit- 



ting at the window opposite — a woman 
in red. I was in mauve, you know, 
my pretty mauve costume. I did not 
know the woman, a new lodger, who 
had been there a month, and as it has 
been raining for a month, I had not yet 
seen her, but I saw immediately that 
she was a bad girl. At first I was very 
much shocked and disgusted that she 
should be at the window just as I was; 
and then by degrees, it amused me to 
watch her. She was resting her elbows 
on the window ledge, and looking at the 
men, and the men looked at her also, 
all or nearly all. One might have said 
that they knew of her presence by some 
means as they got near the house, that 
they scented her, as dogs scent game, 
for they suddenly raised their heads, 
and exchanged a swift look with her, 
a sort of freemason's look. Hers said: 
'Will you?' Theirs replied: T have no 
time,' or else: 'Another day'; or else; 
'I have not got a sou'; or else: 'Hide 
yourself, you wretch!' 

"You cannot imagine how funny it 
was tc< see her carrying on such a piece 
of work, though after all it is her regular 
business. 

"Occasionally she shut the window 
suddenly, and I saw a gentleman go in. 
She had caught him like a fisherman 
hooks a gudgeon. Then I looked at my 
watch, and I found that they never 
stopped longer than from twelve to 
twenty minutes. In the end she really 
infatuated me, the spider! And then 
the creature is so ugly. 

"I asked myself : 'How does she man- 
age to make herself understood so 
quickly, so well and so completely? 
Does she add a sign of the head or a 
motion of the hands to her looks?' And 



THE SIGNAL 



22^ 



I took my opera-glasses to watch her 
proceedings. Oh! they were very sim- 
ple: first of all a glance, then a smile, 
then a slight sign with the head which 
meant: 'Are you coming up?' But it 
was so slight, so vague, so discreet, that 
it required a great deal of knack to 
succeed as she did. And I asked my- 
self: 'I wonder if I could do that little 
movement, from below upward, which 
was at the same time bold and pretty, 
as well as she does,' for her gesture 
was very pretty. 

"I went and tried it before the look- 
ing-glass, and my dear, I did it better 
than she, a great deal better! I was 
enchanted, and resumed my place at 
the window. 

"She caught nobody more then, poor 
girl, nobody. She certainly had no luck. 
It must really be very terrible to earn 
one's bread in that way, terrible and 
amusing occasionally, for really some of 
these men one meets in the street are 
rather nice. 

''After that they all came on my 
side of the road and none on hers; the 
sun had turned. They came one after 
the other, young, old, dark, fair, gray, 
white. I saw some who looked very 
nice, really very nice, my dear, far bet- 
ter than my husband or than yours — I 
mean than your late husband, a^ you 
have got a divorce. Now you can 
choose. 

'T said to myself: Tf I give them the 
sign, will they understand me, who am 
a respectable woman?' And I was 
seized with a mad longing to make that 
sign to them. I had a longing, a terrible 
longing; you know, one of those long- 
ings which one cannot resist! I have 
some like that occasionally. How silly 



such things are, don't you think so? X 
believe that we women have the souls 
of monkeys. I have been told (and 
it was a physician who told me) that the 
brain of a monkey is very like ours. 
Of course we must imitate some one or 
other. We imitate our husbands when 
we love them, during the first months 
after our marriage, and then our lovers, 
our female friends, our confessors when 
they are nice. We assume their ways of 
thought, their manners of speech, their 
words, their gestures, everything. It 
is very foolish. 

"However, as for me, when I anx 
much tempted to do a thing I always 
do it, and so I said to myself: T will 
try it once, on one man only, just to 
see. What can happen to me? 
Nothing whatever! We shall exchange 
a smile and that will be all and I shall 
deny it, most certainly.' 

''So I began to make my choice, I 
wanted some one nice, very nice, and 
suddenly I saw a tall, fair, very good- 
looking fellow coming alone. I like 
fair men, as you know. I looked at him, 
he looked at me; I smiled, he smiled, 
I made the movement, oh! so faintly; 
he replied yes with his head, and there 
he was, my dear! He came in at the 
large door of the house. 

"You cannot imagine what passed 
through my mind then! I thought I 
should go mad. Oh ! how frightened I 
was. Just think, he will speak to the 
servants ! To Joseph, who is devoted to 
my husband! Joseph would certainly 
think that I had known that gentleman 
for a long time. 

'What could I do, just tell me? And 
he would ring in a moment. What could 
I do, tell me? I thought I would go 



230 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



and meet him, and tell him he had made 
a mistake, and beg him to go away. He 
would have pity on a woman, on a poor 
woman: So I rushed to the door and 
opened it, just at the moment when he 
was going to ring the bell, and I stam- 
mered out, quite stupidly: *Go away, 
Monsieur, go away; you have made a 
mistake, a terrible mistake; I took you 
for one of my friends whom you are 
very like. Have pity on me, Mon- 
sieur.' 

"But he only began to laugh, my 
dear, and replied: 'Good morning, my 
dear, I know all about your little story, 
you may be sure. You are m.arried, and 
so you want forty francs instead of 
twenty, and you shall have them, so just 
show the way.* 

"And he pushed me in, closed the 
dooi, and as I remained standing before 
him, horror-struck, he kissed me, put 
his arm round my waist and made me 
go back into the drawing-room, the doer 
of which had remained open. Then he 
began to look at everything like an 
auctioneer, and continued: 'By Jove, it 
is very nice in your rooms, very nice. 
You must be very down on your luck 
just now, to do the window business!* 
"Then I began to bog him again. 
Oh! Monsieur, go away, please go 
away! My husband wull be coming m 
soon^ it is just his time. I swear tliat 
you have made a mistake!' But he an- 
swered quite coolly: 'Come, my beauty, 
f have had enouch of this nonsense, and 
if your husband comes in, I will give 
him live francs to go and have a drink 
at the cufe opposite.' And then seeing 
Raoul's photograph on the chimney- 
piece, he asked me: *Is that your— 
your husband?* 



" 'Yes, that is he.' 

" 'He looks like a nice, disagreeable 
sort of fellow. And who is this? One 
of your friends?' 

"It was your photograph, my dear, 
you know, the one in ball dress. I did 
not know any longer what I was saying 
and I stammered: 'Yes, it is one of my 
friends.' 

"'She is very nice; you shall intro- 
duce me to her.' 

"Just then the clock struck five, and 
Raoul comes home every day at half 
past! Suppose he were to come home 
before the other had gone, just fancy 
what would have happened! Then- 
then — I completely lost my head — alto- 
gether — I thought — I thought — that — 
that — the best thing would be — to get 
rid — of — of this man — as quickly as 
possible — The sooner it was over— 
you understand." 

^ ^ H: ^ 4^ 4 

The little Marchioness de Rennedon 
had begun to laugh, to laugh madly, 
with her head buried in her pillow, so 
that the whole bed shook, and when 
she was a little calmer she asked: 

"And — and — ^was hs good-looking?" 

"Yes." 

"And yet you complain?'* 

"But — ^but — don't you see, my dear, 
he said — he said — ^he should come again 
to-morrow — at the same time — and I — I 
am terribly frightened — You have no 
idea how tenacious he is and obstinate — 
What can I do — tell me — what can I 
do?" 

The little Marchioness sat up in bed 
to reflect, and then she suddenly said: 
"Have him arrested!" 

Thb little Baroness looked stupefied, 



THE DEVIL 



231 



and stammered out: "What do you 
say? What are you thinking of? Have 
him arrested? Under what pretext?" 

"That is very simple. Go to the 
Commissary of Police and say that a 
gentleman has been following you about 
for three months; that he had the in- 
solence to go up to your apartments 
yesterday; that he has threatened you 
with another visit to-morrow, and that 
you demand the protection of the law, 
and they will give you two polico olTi- 
cers who will arrest him." 
"But, my dear, suppose he telh — " 
"They will not bcKcve him, you silly 
thing, if you have told your tale cleverly 
to the commissary, but they will believe 
you, who are an irreproachable woman, 
and in society." 

"Oh! I shall never dare to do it.*' 
"You must dare, my dear, or you are 
lost" 

"But think that he will— he will in- 
sv-lt me if he is arrested." 



"Very well, you will have witnesses, 
and he will be sentenced." 

"Sentenced to what?" 

"To pay damages. In such cases, one 
must be pitiless!" 

"Ah! speaking of damages — there is 
one thing that worries ms very much — - 
very much indeed. lie left me two 
twenty-franc pieces on the mantelpiece." 

* Two twenty-francs pieces?" 

"Yes." 

"No more?* 

"No." 

"That is very little. It would have 
humiliated me. Well?" 

"Well! What am I to do with that 

money?" 

The little Marchioness hesitated for a 
few seconds, and then she replied in a 
serious voice: 

"My dear — ^you must make — you 
must make your husband a little present 
with it. That will be only fair ! " 



The Devil 



'^'he peasant was standing opposite 
ihe doctor, by the bedside of the dying 
old woman, and she, calmly resigned 
and quite lucid, looked at them and 
listened to their talking. She was going 
to die, and she did not rebel at it, for 
her life was over — she was ninety-two. 

The July sun streamed in at the win- 
dow and throu^^h the open door and 
cast its hot flames on to the uneven 
brown clay floor, which had been 
stamped down by four generations of 
clodhoppers. The smell of the fields 



came in also, driven by the brisk wind, 
and parched b> the noontide heat. The 
grasshoppers chirped themselves hoarse, 
filling the air with their shrill noise, 
like that of the wooden crickets which 
are sold to children at fair time. 

The doctor raised his voice and said: 
"Honore, you cannot leave your mother 
in t^Js state; she may die at any mo- 
ment." And the peasant, in great dis- 
tress, replied: "But I must get in my 
wheat, for it has been lying on the 
ground a long time, and the weather ii 



232 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



just right for it; what do you say about 
it, mother?" And the dying woman, sdll 
possessed by her Norman avariciousness, 
replies yes with her eyes and her fore- 
head, and so urged her son to get in his 
wheat, and to leave her to die alone. 
But the doctor got angry, and stamping 
his foot he said: "You are no better 
than a brute, do you hear, and I will 
not allow you to do it. Do you under- 
stand? And if you must get in your 
wheat to-day, go and fetch Rapet's wife 
and make her look after your mother. 
I will have it. And if you do not obey 
me, I will let you die like a dog, when 
you are ill in your turn; do you hear 
me?" 

The peasant, a tall, thin fellow with 
slow movements, who was tormented by 
indecision, by his fear of the doctor 
and his keen love for saving, hesitated, 
calculated, and stammered out: "How 
much does La Rapet charge for attend- 
ing sick people?" 

"How should I know?" the doctor 
cried. "That depends upon how long 
she is wanted for. Settle it with her, 
by Jove! But I want her to be here 
within an hour, do you hear." 

So the man made up his mind. "I 
will go for her," he replied; "don't get 
angry, doctor." And the latter left, 
calling out as he went : "Take care, you 
know, for I do not joke when I am 
angry!" And as soon as they were 
alone, the peasant turned to his mother, 
and said in a resigned voice: "I will go 
and fetch La Rapet, as the man will 
have it. Don't go off while I am away.'* 

And he went out in his turn. 

La Rapet, v/ho was an old washer- 
woman, watched the dead and the dying 
of the neighborhood, and then, as soon 



as she had sewn her customers into that 
linen cloth from which they would 
emerge no more, she went and took up 
her irons to smooth the linen of the liv- 
ing. Wrinkled like a last year's apple, 
spiteful, envious, avaricious with a phe- 
nomenal avarice, bent double, as if she 
had been broken in half across the 
loins, by the constant movement of the 
iron over the linen, one might have said 
that she had a kind of monstrous and 
cynical affection for a death struggle. 
She never spoke of anything but of the 
people she had seen die, of the various 
kinds of deaths at which she had been 
present, and she related, with the great- 
est minuteness, details which were al- 
ways the same, just like a sportsman 
talks of his shots. 

When Honore Bontemps entered her 
cottage, he found her preparing the 
starch for the collars of the village 
women, and he said: "Good evening; 
I hope you are pretty well, Mother 
Rapet." 

She turned her head round to look at 
him and said: "Fairly well, fairly well, 
and you?" 

"Oh! as for me, I am as well as I 
could wish, but my mother is very 
sick." 

"Your mother?" 

"Yes, my mother!'* 

"What's the matter with her?" 

"She is going to turn up her toes, 
that's what's the mat'.er with her!" 

The old woman Look her hands out 
of the water and asked with sudden 
sympathy: "Is she as bad as all that?" 

"The doctor says she will not last 
till morning." 

"Then she certainly is very bad!" 
Honore hesitated, ^or he wanted to make 



THE DEVIL 



233 



a few preliminary remarks before com- 
ing to his proposal, but as he could hit 
upon nothing, he made up his mind sud- 
denly. 

"How much are you going to ask to 
stop with her till the end? You know 
that I am not rich, and I cannot even 
afford to keep a servant-girl. It is just 
that which has brought my poor mother 
to this state, too much work and fatigue ! 
She used to work for ten, in spite of 
her ninety-two years. You don't find 
any made of that stuff nowadays!" 

La Rapet answered gravely: "There 
are two prices: Forty sous by day and 
three francs by night for the rich, and 
twenty sous by day, and forty by night 
for the others. You shall pay me the 
twenty and forty." But the peasant re- 
flected, for he knew his mother well. 
He knew how tenacious of life, how 
vigorous and unyielding she was. He 
knew, too, that she might last another 
week, in spite of the doctor's opinion, 
and so he said resolutely: "No, I would 
rather you would fix a price until the 
end. I will take my chance, one way 
or the other. The doctor says she will 
die very soon. If that happens, so much 
the better for you, and so much the 
worse for me, but if she holds out till 
to-morrow or longer, so much the better 
for me and so much the worse for you!'* 

The nurss looked at the man in 
astonishment, for she had never treated 
a death as a speculative job, and she 
hesitated, tempted by the idea of the 
possible gain. But almost immediately 
she suspected that he wanted to juggle 
her, "I can say nothing until I have 
seen your mother," she replied. 

"Then come with me and see her." 

She washed her hands, and went with 



him immediately. They did not speak 
on the road; she walked with short, 
hasty steps, while he strode on with his 
long legs, as if he were crossing a brook 
at every step. The cows lying down 
in the fields, overcome by the heat^ 
raised their heads heavily and lowed 
feebly at the two passers-by, as if to 
ask them for some green grass. 

When they got near the house, 
Honore Bontemps murmured: "Sup- 
pose it is all over?" And the uncon- 
scious wish that it might be so showed 
itself in the sound of his voice. 

But the old woman was not dead. 
She was lying on her back, on her 
wretched bed, her hands covered with 
a pink cotton counterpane, horribly thin, 
knotty paws, like some strange animal's, 
or like crabs' claws, hands closed by 
rheumatism, fatigue, and the work of 
nearly a century which she had accom- 
plished. 

La Rapet went up to the bed and 
looked at the dying woman, felt her 
pulse, tapped her on the chest, listened 
to her breathing, and asked her ques- 
tions, so as to hear her speak: then, 
having looked at her for some time 
longer, she went out of the room, foU 
lowed by Honore. His decided opinion 
was, that the old woman would not last 
out the night, and he asked: "Well?" 
And the sick-nurse replied: "Well, she 
may last two days, perhaps three. You 
will have to give me six francs, every- 
thing included." 

"Six francs! six francs!" he shouted. 
"Are you out of your mind? I tell yow 
that she cannot last more than five o^ 
six hours!" And they disputed angrily 
for some time, but as the nurse said 
she would go home, as the time was 



J4 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



slipping away, and as his wheat would 
not come to the farmyard of its own 
accord, he agreed to her terms at last: 

"Very well, then, that is settled; six 
francs including everything, until the 
corpse is taken out." 

*'That is settled, six francs." 

And he went away, with long strides, 
to the wheat, which was lying on the 
ground under the hot sun which ripens 
the grain, while the sick-nurse returned 
to the house. 

She had brought some work with her, 
for she worked without stepping by the 
side of. the dead and dying, sometimes 
for herself, sometimes for the family, 
who employed her as seamstress also, 
paying her rather more in that capacity. 
Suddenly she asked: 

''Have you received the last sacra- 
ment. Mother Bontemps?" 

The old peasant woman said "No" 
with her head, and La Rapet, who was 
very devout, got w} quickly: "Good 
heavens, is it possible? I will go and 
fetch the cure''; and she rushed off 
to the parsonage so quickly, that the 
urchins in the street thought some acci- 
dent had happened, when they saw her 
trotting off like that. 

The priest came immediately in his 
surpHce, preceded by a choir-boy, who 
rang a bell to announce the passage of 
the Host through the parched and quiet 
country. Some men, working at a dis- 
tance, took off their hrge hats and re- 
mained motionless until the white vest- 
ment had disappeared behind some farm 
buildings; the women who were making 
up the sheaves stood up to make the 
sign of the cross; the friehtened black 
iiens ran away along the ditch until they 
"•cached a well-krown hole through 



which they suddenly disappeared, while 
a foal, which was tied up i:i a meadow, 
took fright at the sight of the surpHce 
and began to gallop round at the length 
cf its rope, kicking violently. The choir- 
boy, in his red cassock, walked quickly, 
and the priest, the square biretta on his 
bowed head, followed him, muttering 
some prayers. Last of all came La 
Rapet, bent almost doubb, as if she 
v.'ishcd to prostrate herself; she walked 
v/Ith folded hands, as if she were in 
church, 

Honore saw them pass in the dis- 
tance, and he asked: "Where is our 
priest going to?' And his man, who 
was more acute, replied: "He is taking 
tho sacrament to your mother, of 
course ! " 

The peasant was not surprised and 
said: "That is quite possible," and went 
on with his work. 

Mother Bontemps confessed, received 
absolution and extreme unction, and the 
priest took his departure, leaving the 
two women alone in the suffocating cot- 
tage. La Rapet began to look at the 
dying woman, and to ask herself whether 
it could last much longer. 

The day was on the wane, and a 
cooler air came in stronger puffs, mak- 
ing a view of Epinal, which was fast- 
ened to the wall by two pins, flap up 
and down. The scanty window cur- 
tains, which had formerly been white, 
but were now yellow and covered with 
fly-specks, looked as if they were going 
to fly off, and seemed to struggle to 
get away, like the old woman's soul. 

Trying motionless, with her eyes oyjen, 
the old mother seemed to await the 
death wh'ch w^as so near, and which yet 
delayed its coming, with perfect indif- 



THE DEVIL 



^35 



ferench.. Her short breath whistled in 
her throAt. It would stop altogether 
soon, and there would be one woman less 
in the world, one whom nobody would 
regret. 

At nightfall Honore returned, and 
when he went up to the bed and saw 
that his mother was still alive he asked : 
"How is she?'' just as he had done 
formerly, when she had been sick. Then 
he sent La Rapct away, saying to her: 
"To-morrow morning at five o'clock, 
without fail." And she replied: "To- 
morrow at five o''clock." 

She came at daybreak, and found 
Honore eating his soup, which he had 
made himself, before going to work. 

"Well, is your mother dead?" asked 
the nurse. 

"She is rather better, on the con- 
trary," he replied, with a malignant look 
out of the corner of his eyes. Then 
he went out. 

La Rapct was seized with anxiety, and 
went up to the dying woman, who was 
in the same state, lethargic and impas- 
sive, her eyes open and hei hands clutch- 
ing the counterpane. Tne nurse per- 
ceived that this might go on thus for 
two days, four days, eight days, even, 
and her avaricious mind was seized with 
fear. She was excited to fury against 
the cunning ttUow who had tricked her, 
and against the woman who would not 
die. 

Neverthelei^s, she began to sew and 
waited with her eyes fixed on the 
WTinkled face of Mother Bontemps. 
When Honore returned to breakfast he 
seemed quite satisfied, and even in a 
bantering humor, for he was carrying 
in his wheat under very favorable cir- 
cumstance:;. 



La Rapet was getting exasperated; 
every pas:,ing minute now seemea to her 
so much tinrie and money stolen from 
her. She felt a mad inclination to 
choke this old ass, this headstrong old 
fool, this obstinate old wretch — to stop 
that short, rapid breath, which was 
robbing her of her time and money, by 
squeezing her throat a little. But then 
she reflected on the danger of doing so, 
and other thoughts came into her head, 
so she went up to the bed and said to 
her: "Have you ever seen the Devil?" 

Mother Bontemps whispered: "No." 

Then the sick-nurse began to talk and 
to tell her tales likely to terrify her 
weak and dying mind. "Some minutes 
before one dies the Devil appears," she 
said, "to all. He has a broom in his 
hand, a saucepn.n on his head and he 
utters loud cries. When anybody had 
seen him,, all was over, and that person 
liad only a few moments longer tc live"j 
and she enumerated all those to whom 
the Devil had appeared that year: 
Josephine Loisel, Eulalie Ratier, Sophie 
Fadagnau, Seraphine Grospied. 

Mother Bontemps, who was at last 
most disturbed in mind, moved about, 
wrung her hands, and tried to turn her 
head to look at the other end of the 
room. Suddenly La Rapet disappeared 
at the foot of the bed. She took a 
sheet out of the cupboard and wrapped 
herself up in it; then she put the iron 
pot on to her head, so that its three 
short bent feet rose up b'ke horns, took 
a broom in her right hand and a tin pail 
in her left, which she threw up suddenly, 
so that it might tall to the ground 
noisily. 

Certainly when it came down, it made 
a terrible noise. Then, climbing on to 



236 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



a chair, the nurse showed herself, 
gesticulating and uttering shrill cries into 
the pot which covered her face, while 
she menaced the old peasant woman, 
who was nearly dead, with her broom. 

Terrified, with a mad look on her 
face, the dying woman made a super- 
human effort to get up and escape; she 
even got her shoulders and chest out 
of bed; then she fell back with a deep 
sigh. All was over, and La Rapet calmly 
put everything back into its place; the 
broom into the corner by the cupboard, 
the sheet inside it, the pot on to the 
hearth, the pail on to the floor, and the 
^hair against the wall. Then with a 



professional air, she closed the dead 
woman's enormous eyes, put a plate on 
the bed and poured some holy water into 
it, dipped the twig of boxwood into it, 
and kneeling down, she fervently re- 
peated the prayers for the dead, which 
she knew by heart, as a matter of busi- 
ness. 

When Honore returned in the evening, 
he found her praying. He calculated 
immediately that she had made twenty 
sous out of him, for she had only spent 
three days and one night there, which 
made five francs altogether, instead of 
the six which he owed her. 



The Venus of Braniza 



Some years ago there lived in Braniza 
a celebrated Talmudist, renowned no 
less on account of his beautiful wife, 
than for his wisdom, his learning, and 
his fear of God. The Venus of Braniza 
deserved that name thoroughly; she de- 
served it for herself, on account of her 
singular beauty, and even more as the 
wife of a man deeply versed in the Tal- 
mud, for the wives of the Jewish phi- 
Josophers are, as a rule, ugly or possess 
some bodily defect. 

The Talmud explains this in the fol- 
lowing manner: It is well known that 
marriages are made in heaven, and at 
the birth of a boy a divine voice calls 
out the name of his future wife, and 
vice versd. But just as a good father 
tries to get rid of his good wares out 
of doors, and only uses the damaged 
*tuff at home for his children, so God 



bestows on the Talmudists those women 
whom other men would not care to 
have. 

Well, God made an exception in the 
case of our Talmudist, and had bestowed 
a Venus on him, perhaps only in order 
to confirm the rule by means of this 
exception, and to make it appear less 
hard. This philosopher's wife was a 
woman who would have done honor to 
any king's throne, or to a pedestal in 
any sculpture gallery. Tall, and with a 
wonderfully voluptuous figure, she car- 
ried a strikingly beautiful head, sur- 
mounted by thick, black plaits, on heri 
proud shoulders. Two large, dark eyeS) 
languished and glowed beneath long 
lashes, and her beautiful hands looked 
as if they were carved out of ivory. 

This glorious woman, who seemed to 
have been designed by nature to rule. 



:HE VENUS OF BRANIZA 



237 



10 see slaves at her feet, to provide 
occupation for the painter's brush, the 
sculptor's chisel, and the poet's pen, 
lived the life of a rare and beautiful 
flower shut up in a hothouse. She 
would sit the whole day long wrapped 
up in her costly furs looking down 
dreamily into the street. 

She had no children; her husband, 
the philosopher, studied and prayed and 
studied again from early morning until 
late at night; his mistress was "the 
Veiled Beauty," as the Talmudists call 
the Kabbalah. Sh'* paid no attention 
to her house, fo/ jhe was rich, and 
everything went of its own accord like 
a clock which has only to be wound 
up once a week; nobody came to see 
her, and she never went out of the 
house ; she sat and dreamed and brooded 
and — ^yawned. 

^ 3(( 9i( 9|e * )ie 

One day when a terrible storm of 
thunder and lightning had spent its fury 
over the town, and all windows had 
been opened in order to let the Messias 
in, the Jewish Venus was sitting as usual 
in her comfortable easy-chair, shivering 
in spite of her furs, and thinking. Sud- 
denly she fixed her glowing eyes on her 
husband who was sitting before the Tal- 
mud, swaying his body backward and 
forward, and said suddenly: 

"Just tell me, when will Messias, 
the son of David, come?" 

"He will come," the philosopher re- 
plied, "when all the Jews have become 
*^,her altogether virtuous or altogether 
vicious, says the Talmud." 

"Do you believe that all the Jews 
will ever become virtuous?" the Venus 
continued. 



"How am I to believe that?" 
"So Messias will come when all the 
Jews have become vicious?" 

The philosopher shrugged his shoul- 
ders, and lost himself again in the laby- 
rinth of the Talmud, out of which^ so 
it is said, only one man returned in 
perfect sanity. The beautiful woman at 
the window again looked dreamily out 
into the heavy rain, while her white 
fingers played unconsciously with the 
dark furs of her splendid robe. 
****** 

One day the Jewish philosopher had 
gone to a neighboring town, where an 
important question of ritual was to be 
decided. Thanks to his learning, the 
question was settled sooner than he had 
expected, and instead of returning the 
next morning, as he had intended, he 
came back the same evening with a 
friend who was no less learned than 
himself. He got out of the carriage at 
his friend's house and went home on 
foot. He was not a little surprised 
when he saw his windows brilliantly 
illuminated, and found an officer's serv- 
ant comfortably smoking his pipe in 
front of his house 

"What are you doing here?" he asked 
in a friendly manner, but with some 
curiosity, nevertheless. 

"I am on guard, lest the husband of 
the beautiful Jewess should come home 
imexpectedly." 

"Indeed? Well, mind and keep a 
good lookout." 

Saying this, the philosopher pretended 
to go away, but went into the house 
through the garden entrance at the bacK. 
When he got into the first room, he 
found a table laid for two, which had 



238 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



evidently only been left a short time 
previously. His wife was sitting as 
usual Lt her bedroom window wrapped 
in her furs, but her cheeks were sus» 
piciously red, and her dark eyes had 
not their usual languishing look, but 
now rested on her husband with a gaze 
which expressed at the same time satis- 
faction and mockery. At that moment 
his foot stuck against an object on 
the floor, which gave out a strange 
sound. He picked it up and examined 
it in the light. It v/as a pair of spurs. 
"Who has been herewith you?" asked 
the Talmudist. 



The Jewish Venus shrugged her shoul- 
ders contemptuously, but did not re- 
ply. 

■'Shall I tell you? The Captain of 
Hussars has been with you." 

"And why should he not have Heen 
here with me?" she said, smoothing the 
fur on her jacket with her white hand. 

"Woman! are ycu out of your mind?" 

"I am in full possession of my 
senses," she replied, and a knowing 
smile hovered round her red voluptuous 
lips. "But must I not also do my p«rt, 
in order that Messias may cume and re- 
deem us poor Jews?" 



T/oe Rabbit 



Old Lecackeur appeared at the door 
of his bouse at his Uiuul hour, between 
five and a quarter past five in the morn- 
ing, to look after his men who were 
going to v/crk. 

With a red face, only half awake, his 
right eye open and the leit nearly closed, 
he was buttoning his braces over his fat 
stomach with seme dlCiculty, all the 
time looking into every corner of the 
farmyard with a searching glance. The 
sun was darting his oblique rays through 
the beech-trees by the side of the ditch 
and the apple-trees outside, making the 
cocks crow on the dung-hill, and the 
pigeons coo on the roof. The smell 
of the cow stalls came through tho 
open door, mingling in the fresh morn- 
ing air with the pungent odor of the 
stable where the horses were neighing, 
with their heads turned toward the light. 

As soon as bis trousers were properly 



fastened, Lecacheui' cam«^ out, and went 
first of ail toward the hen-house to 
count the morning's cggj, for he had 
been suspecting thefts fo. some time. 
But the servant girl ran up to him with 
lifted arms and cried: 

"Master! Master! they hav? stolen a 
rabbit during the night." 

"A rabbit?" 

"Yes, I^Iaster, the big gray rabbit, 
from the hutch on the left." Where- 
upon the farmer quite opened his left 
eye, and said, simply: 

"I must sec that." 

And off he went to inspect it. The 
hutch had been broken open and the 
rabbit was gone. Then l.'.e became 
thoughtful, closed his left fye again, 
scratched his nose, and af'er \ kittle 
consideration, said to the frlghlened 
girl, who was standing stupidly bt;fore 
him: 



THE RABBIT 



23'y 



**Go and fetch the gendarmes; say I 
Bzpect tjucm as soon as possible." 

Lecacheur was mayor of the village, 
Pairgry4o Gras, and ruled it like a 
tyrant, m ar.count of his money and 
position. A.S soon as the servant had 
lisappeared m the direction of the vil- 
lage, which was only about five hundred 
yards off, be went into the house to 
have his morning coffee and to discuss 
the matter with his wife. He found her 
on her knees in front of the fire, trying 
to get it to burn up quickly. As soon 
as he got to the door, he said: 

"Somebody has stolen the gray rab- 
bit" 

She turned round so quickly that she 
found herself sitting on the floor, and 
looking at her husband with distressed 
eyes, she said: 

"What is it, Cacheux! Somebody has 
itolen a rabbit?" 
' "The big gray one." 

She sighed: "How sad! Who can 
liave done it?" 

She was a little, thin, active, neat 
woman, who knew all about farming. 
But Lecacheur had his own ideas about 
the matter. 

"It must be that fellow Polyte." 

His wife got up suddenly and said 
in a furious voice: 

"He did it ! he did it ! You need not 
look for anv one else. He did it! 
You have said it, Cacheux!" 

All her peasant's fury, all her avarice^ 
all the rage of a saving woman against 
the man of whom she had always been 
suspicious, and against the girl whom 
she had always suspected, could be seen 
in the contraction of her mouth, in the 
wrinkles in her cheeks, and in the fore- 
head of her thin, exasnerated face. 



"And what have you done?'' she 
asked. 

"I have sent for the gandarmes.'* 

This Polyte was a laborer, who had 
been employed on the farm for a few 
days, and had been dismissed by Le- 
cacheur for an insolent answer. He was 
an old soldier, and was supposed to 
have retained his habits of marauding? 
and debauchery from his campaigns in 
Africa. He did nnythmg for a liveli- 
hood, but whether working as a mason^ 
a navvy, a reaper, whether h2 broke 
stones or lopped trees, he was always 
lazy. So he remained in no position 
long, and had, at times, to change his 
neighborhood to obtain work. 

From the first day that he came to 
the .^'»rm. Lecacheur's wife had detested 
him, and now she was sure that he had 
committed \be robbery. 

In about half an hour the two gen- 
darmes arrived. Brigadier Senateur was 
very tall and thin, and Gendarme 
Lenient, short and fat. Lecacheur made 
them sit down and told them the affair, 
and then they went and saw the scene 
of the theft, in order to verify the 
fact that the hutch had been broken 
open, and to collect all the proofs they 
could. When they got back tc the 
kitchen, the mistress brought in some 
wine, filled their glasses and asked with' 
a distrustful look: 

"Shall you catch him?" 

The brigadier, who had his sword be* 
tween his legs, appeared thoughtful. 
Certainly, he was sure of taking him, 
if he was pointed out to him, but if not, 
he could not himself answer for being 
able to discover him. After reflecting 
for a long time, he put this simple ques* 
tion: 



^40 



-WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSAM i 



"Do you know the thief?" 

And Lecacheur replied, with a look of 
Normandy slyness in his eyes: 

"As for knowing him, I do not. as 
I did not see him commit the robbery. 
If I had seen him, I should have made 
him eat it raw, skin and flesh, without 
a drop of cider to wash it down. As 
for saying who it is, I cannot, although 
I believe it is that good-for-nothing 
Polyte." 

Then he related at length his troubles 
with Polyte, his leaving his service, his 
ibad reputation, things which had been 
told him, accumulating insignificant and 
minute proofs. Then the brigadier, who 
had been listening very attentively while 
he emptied his glass and filled it again, 
turned to his gendarme with an indiffer- 
ent air, and said: 

"We must go and look in the cottage 
of Severin's wife." At which the gen- 
darme smiled and nodded three times. 

Then Madame Lecacheur came to 
them, and very quietly, with all a 
peasant's cunning, questioned the briga- 
dier in her turn. The shepherd Severin, 
a simpleton, a sort of brute who had 
been brought up from youth among his 
Oleating flocks, and who knew of scarcely 
anything besides them in the world, had 
nevertheless preserved the peasant's in- 
stinct for saving, at the bottom of his 
heart. For years and j'-ears he had 
hidden in hollow trees and crevices in 
the rocks, all that he earned, either as 
shepherd, or by curing the fractures of 
animals (for the bonesetter's secret had 
been handed down to him by the old 
shepherd whose place he took"^ by touch 
or advice, for one day he bought a small 
proprety consisting of a cottage and a 
^eldv for three thousand francs. 



A few months latei it became known 
that he was going to marry a servant 
notorious for her bad morals, the inn- 
keeper's servant. The young fellows 
said that the girl, knowing that he was 
pretty well off, had been to his cottage 
every night, and had taken him, be- 
witched him, led him on to matrimony, 
little by little, night by night. 

And then, having been to the mayor's 
ofi5ce and to church, she lived in the 
house which her man had bought, while 
he continued to tend his flocks, day and 
night, on the plains. 

And the brigadier added: 

"Polyte has been sleeping with her 
for three weeks, for the thief has no 
place of his own to go to!" 

The gendarme made a little joke: 

"He takes the shepherd's blankets." 

Madame Lecacheur, seized by a fresh 
access of rage, of rage increased by a 
married woman's anger against debauch- 
ery, exclaimed: 

"It is she, I am sure. Go there. 
Ah! the blackguard thieves!" 

But the brigadier was quite unmoved. 

"A minute," he said. "Let us wait 
until twelve o'clock; as Polyte goes and 
dines there every day I shall catch them 
with it under their noses." 

The gendarme smiled, pleased at his 
chief's idea, and Lecacheur also smiled- 
now, for the affair of the shepherd 
struck him as very funny : deceived hus- 
bands are always amusing. 
****** 

Twelve o'clock had just struck when 
the brigadier, followed by his man, 
knocked gently three times at the door 
of a small lonely house, situated at th» 



I 



THE RABBIT 



241 



comer of a wood, some five hundred 
yards from the village. 

They stood close against the wall, so 
as not to be seen from within, and 
waited. As nobody answered, the briga- 
dier knocked again in a minute or two. 
It was so quiet that the house seemed 
uninhabited; but Lenient, the gendarme, 
who had very quick ears, said that he 
heard somebody moving about inside. 
Senateur got angry. He would not al- 
low anyone to resist the authority of the 
law for a moment, and, knocking at 
the door with the hilt of his sword, he 
cried out: 

"Open the door, in the name of the 
law." 

As this order had no effect, he roared 
out: 

"If you do not obey, I shall smash 
the lock. I am the brigadier of the 
gendarmerie, by G — d ! Here, Lenient." 

He had not finished speaking when 
the door opened and Senateur saw be- 
fore him a fat girl, with a very red 
color, blowsy, with pendent breasts, big 
stomach, and broad hips, a sort of 
sanguine and sensual female, the wife 
of the shepherd Severin. He entered 
the cottage. 

"I have come to pay you a visit, as 
I want to make a little search," he said, 
and he looked about him. On the table 
there was a plate, a jug of cider and a 
glass half full, which proved that a 
meal had been going on. Two knives 
were lying side by side, and the shrewd 
gendarme winked at his superior ofiBcer. 

"It smells good," the latter said. 

"One might swear that it was stewed 
rabbit," Lenient added, much amused. 

"Will you have a glass of brandy?" 
the peasant woman asked. 



"No, thank you; I only want the skin 
of the rabbit that you are eating." 

She pretended not to understand, but 
she was trembling. 

"What rabbit?" 

The brigadier had taken a seat, and 
was calmly wiping his forehead. 

"Come, come, you are not going to 
try and make us believe that you live on 
couch grass. What were you eating 
there all by yourself for your dinner?" 

"I? Nothing whatever, I swear to 
you. A mite of butter on my bread." 

"You are a novice, my good woman 
— a mite of butter on your bread. You 
are mistaken; you ougLt to have said: 
a mite of butter on the rabbit. By 
G — d, your butter smells good! It is 
special butter, extra good butter, butter 
fit for a wedding; certainly not house^ 
hold butter!" 

The gendarme was shaking with 
laughter, and repeated : 

"Not household butter, certainly." 

As Brigadier Senateur was a joker, 
all the gendarmes had grown facetious, 
and the officer continued: 

"Where is your butter?" 

"My butter?" 

"Yes, your butter." 

"In the jar." 

"Then where is the butter jar." 

"Here it is." 

Sht brought out an old cup, at the 
bottom of which there was a layer of 
rancid, salt • butter. The brigadier 
smelled it, and said, with a shake of 
his head: 

"It is noi; the same. I want the but- 
ter that smells of the rabbit. Come, 
Lenient, open your eyes; look under the 
sideboard, my good fellow, and I will 
look under the bed." 



242 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



Having shut the door, he went up to 
the bed and tried to move it; but it 
was fixed to the wall, and bad not 
been moved for more than half a cen- 
tury, apparently. Then the brigadier 
stooped, and made his uniform crack. 
A button hud flown off. 

"Lenient," he said. 

"Yes, brigadier?" 

"Come here, my lad, and look under 
the bed ; I am too tall. I will look after 
the sideboard." 

He goL up and waited while his man 
executed his orders. 

Lenient, who was short and stout, 
took off his kepi, laid himself on his 
stomach, and putting his fa'^e on the 
floor looked at the black cavity under 
the bed. Then, suddenly, he exclaimed: 

"All right, here we are!" 

"What have you got? The rabbit?" 

"No, the thitf." 

"The thief! Pull him out, pull him 
out!" 

The gendarme had put his arms under 
the bed and laid hold of something. 
He pulled with all his might, and at last 
a foot, shod in a thick boot, appeared, 
which he was holding in his right hand. 
The brigadier grabbed it, crying: 

'Tull, pull!" 

And Lenient, who was on his knees ^y 
that ticue, was pulling at the other leg. 
But it WciS a hard job, for the prisoner 
kicked out ha'rd, and arched up his back 
across the bed. 

"Courage! courage? pull! pull!" 
Senateur cried, and they pulled with all 
their strength — so hard that the wooden 
bar gave way, and the victim came out 
as far as his head. At last they got 
that out also, and saw the terrified and 
furious face of Polyte, whose arms re- 



mained stretched out under the bed. 

"Pull away!" the brigadier kept on 
exclaiming. Then they heard a strange 
noise as the arms followed the shoulders 
and the hands the arms. In the hands 
was the handle of a saucepan, and at 
the end of the handle the pan itself, 
which contained stewed rabbit. 

"Good Lord! good Lord!" the briga- 
dier shouted in his delight, while Lenient 
took charge of the man. The rabbit's 
skin, an overwhelming proof, was dis- 
covered under the mattress, and the gen- 
darmes returned in triumph to the vil- 
lage with their prisoner and their booty. 

>ic ♦ ♦ 4. * ♦ 

A week later, as the affair had made 
much stir, Lecacheur, on going into the 
malrie to consult the schoolmaster, was 
told that the shepherd Severin Lad been 
waiting for him for more than an hour. 
He found him sitting on a chair in a 
corner with his stick between his legs. 
When he saw the mayor, he got up, took 
off his cap, and said: 

"Good morning, Maitre Cacheux"; 
and then he remained standing, timid 
and embarrassed. 

"What do you want?" the former, 
said. 

"This is it, Monsieur. Is it true that ■ 
somebody stole one of your rabbits last 
week?" 

"Yes, it is quite true, Severin." , 

"Who stole the rabbit?" I 

"Polyte Ancas, the laborer." | 

"Right! right! And is it also true 
that it was found under my bed?" 
"What do you mean, the rabbit?" 
"The rabbit and then Polyte." 
"Yes, my poor Severin, quite true, 
but who told you?" 
"Pretty well everybody. I under- 



LA MORILLONNE 



243 



stand! And I suppose you know all 
about marriages, as you marry* peo- 
ple?" 

''What about marriage?" 

"With regard to one's rights." 

"What rights?" 

"The husband's rights and then the 
wife's rights.'' 

"Of course I do." 

"Oh! Then just tell me, M'sieu 
Cacheux, has my wife the right to go 
to bed with Polyte?" 

"What do you mean by going to bed 
with Polyte?" 

"Yes, has she any right before the 
law, and seeing that she is my wife, to 
go to bed with Polyte?" 

"Why of course not, of course not." 
"If I catch him there again, shall I 



have the right to thrash him and her 
also?" 

"Why — ^why — ^why, yes." 

"Very well, then; I will tell you why 
I want to know. One night last week, 
as I had my suspicions, I came in sud- 
denly, and they were not behaving prop- 
erly. I chucked Polyte out, to go and 
sleep somewhere else; but that was all, 
as I did not know what my rights were. 
This time I did not see them; I only 
heard of it from others. That is over, 
and we will not say any more about it; 
but if I catch them again, by G — d! 
if I catch them again, I will make them 
lose all taste for such nonsense, Maitre 
Cacheux, as sure as my name is 
Severin." 



*In France, the civil marriarje is com- 
pulsory. 



La Morillonne 



They called her "La Morillonne,"* 
not only on account of her black hair 
and of a complexion which resembled 
autumnal leaves, but because of her 
thick purple lips which were like black- 
berries, when she curled them. 

That she should be as dark as this 
in a district where everybody was fair, 
and born of parents who had tow-colored 
hair and butter-like complexions was one 
of the mysteries of atavism. A female 
ancestor must have had intimacy with 
one of those traveling tinkers who have 
gone about the country from time im- 
memorial, with faces the color of bister 
and indigo, crowned by a wisp of light 
hair. 



From that ancestor she derived not 
only her dark complexion, but also her 
dark soul and her deceitful eyes, whose 
depths were at times illuminated by 
flashes of every vice, the eyes of an 
obstinate and malicious animal. 

Handsome? Certainly not, nor even 
pretty. Ugly, with an absolute ugliness ! 
Such a false look! Ker nose ^as flat 
having been smashed by a blow, while 
her unwholesome-looking mouth was al- 
ways slobbering with greediness, oi 
uttering something vile. Her hair was 
thick and untidy, a regular nest for 
vermin, and she had a thin, feverish 



*A sort of Wack grape. — Editor. 



Z44 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



body, with a limping walk. In short, 
she was a peiftct monster, and yet all 
the young men of the neighborhood 
had made love to her, and whoever had 
been so honored longed for her society 
again. 

From the time that she was twelve, 
she had been the mistress of every fel- 
low in the village. She had corrupted 
boys of her own age in every conceiv- 
able manner and place. 

Young men at the risk of imprison- 
ment, and even steady, old, notable, and 
venerable men, ruch as the farmer at 
Eclausiaux, Monsieur Martin, the ex- 
mayor, and other highly respectable citi- 
zens, had been taken by the manners of 
that slut. The reason why the rural 
policeman was not severe upon them, in 
spite of his love for summoning people 
before the magistrates, was, so people 
said, that he would have been obliged to 
take out a summons against himself. 

The consequence was that she had 
grown up without being interfered with, 
and was the mistress of every fellow 
in the village, as said the schoolmaster, 
who had himself been one of the fel- 
lows. But the most curious part of the 
business was that no one was jealous. 
They handed her on from one to the 
other, and when some one expressed his 
astonishment at this to her one day, she 
said to this unintelligent stranger: 

*'Is everybody not satisfied?" 

And then, how could any one of them, 
even if he had been jealous, have 
monopolized her? They had no hold 
on her. She was not selfish, and though 
she accepted all gifts, whether in kind 
or in money, she never asked for any- 
thing, and she even appeared to prefer 
pajnng herself after her own fashion, by 



stealing. All she seemed to care about 
as her reward was pilfering, and a crown 
put into her hand gave her less pleasure 
than a half penny which she had stolen. 
Neither was it any use to dream of rul- 
ing her, of being the sole male, or proud 
master of the henroost, for none of 
them, no matter how broad-shouldered 
he was, would have been capable of it. 
Some had tried to vanquish her, but in 
vain. 

How, then, could any of them claim 
to be her master? It would have been 
the same as wishing to have the sole 
right of baking bread in the common 
oven, in which the whole village baked. 

But there was one exception, and that 
was Bru, the shepherd. 

He lived in the fields in a movable 
hut, feeding on cakes made of unleav- 
ened dough, which he kneaded on a 
stone and baked in the hot ashes, now 
here, now there, in a hole dug out in 
the ground, and heated with dead wood. 
Potatoes, milk, hard cheese, black- 
berries, and a small cask of old gin 
distilled by himself, were his daily food. 
He knew nothing about love, although 
he was accused of all sorts of horrible 
things. But nobody dared abuse him 
to his face; in the first place, because 
Bru was a spare and sinewy man, who 
handled his shepherd's crook like a 
drum-major does his staff; secondly, 
because of his three sheep dogs, who 
had teeth like wolves, and obeyed no- 
body but their master; and lastly, for 
fear of the evil eye. For Bru, it ap- 
peared, knew spells which would blight 
the corn, give the sheep foot-rot, cattle 
the rinderpest, make cows die in calving, 
and set fire to the ricks and stacks. 

But as Bru was the only one v/ho did 



EPIPHANY 



245 



not thirst after La Morillonne, naturally 
one day she began to think of him, and 
declared that she, at any rate, was not 
afraid of his evil eye. So she went after 
him. 

"What do you want?" he said, and 
she replied boldly: 

"What do I want? I want you." 

"Very well," he said, "but then you 
must belong to me alone." 

"All right," was her answer, "if you 
think you can please me." 

He smiled and took her into his arms, 
and she was away from the village for 
a whole week. She had, in fact, become 
Bru's exclusive property. 

The village grew excited. They were 
not jealous of one another, but they 
were of him. What! Could she not 
resist him? Of course he had charms 
and spells against every imaginable 
thing. Then they grew furious; next 
they grew bold, and watched from be- 
hind a tree. She was still as lively as 
ever, but he, poor fellow, seemed to 
have suddenly fallen ill, and required 
nursing at her hands. The villagers, 
however, felt no compassion for the 
poor shepherd, and one of them, more 
courageous than the rest, advanced to- 
ward the hut with his gun in his hand: 

"Tie up your dogs," he cried out from 
a distance; "fasten them up, Bru, or 
I shall shoot them." 



"You need not be frightened of the 
dogs," Le Morillonne replied; "I will 
be answerable for it that they will not 
hurt you"; and she smiled as the young 
man with the gun went toward her. 

"What do you want?" the shepherd 
said: 

"I can tell you," she replied. "He 
wants me and I am very willing. 
There!" 

Bru began to cry, and she continued: 

"You are a good-for-nothing.'* 

And she went off with the lad. Bru 

seized his crook, seeing which the yoimg 

fellow raised his gun. 

"Seize him! seize him!" the shepherd 
shouted, urging on his dogs, while the 
other had already got his finger on 
the trigger to fire at them. But La 
Morillonne pushed down the muzzle and 
called out: 

"Here, dogs! here! Prr, prr, my 
beauties!" 

And the three dogs rushed up to her, 
licked her hands and frisked about as 
they followed her, while she called to 
the shepherd from the distance: 

"You see, Bru, they are not at all 
jealous!" 

And then, with a short and evil laugh, 
she added: 

"They are my property now." 



Epiphany 



"Ah!" said Captain the Count de 
Gar ens, "I should rather think that I 
do remember that Epiphany supper, 
during the wart 



"At the time I was quartermaster of 
cavalry, and for a fortnight, I had been 
lurking about as a scout in front of 
the German advanced guard. The ev^ 



I 



246 



WORKS Cr GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



ning before we had cut down a few 
Uhlans and had lost three men, one of 
whom was that poor little Raudevillc. 
You remember Joseph de Raudeville 
well, of course. 

"Well, on that day my captain ordered 
me to take six troopers and occupy the 
village ot Porterin, where there had been 
five fights in three weeks, and to hold it 
ail night. There were not twenty houses 
left standing, nay, not a dozen, in that 
wasp's nest. So I took ten troopers, 
and set out at about four o'clock; at 
five o'clock, while it was still pitch dark, 
we reached the first houses of Porterin. 
I halted and ordered Marchas — you 
know Pierre de Marchas, who after- 
ward married little Martel-Auvelin, the 
daughter of the Marquis de Martel- 
Auvelin — to go alone into the village 
and to report to me what he saw. 

"I had chosen nothing but volunteers, 
and all of good family. When on serv- 
ice it is pleasant not to be forced into 
intimacy with unpleasant fellows. This 
Marchas was as sharp as possible, as 
cunning as a fox, and as supple as a 
serpent. He could scent the Prussians 
as well as a dog can scent a hare, could 
find victuals where we should have died 
of hunger without him, and could ob- 
tain information from everybody — in- 
formation which was always reliable — 
with incredible cleverness. 

"In ten minutes he returned. 'All 
right,* he said; 'there have been no 
Prussians here for three days. It is a 
sinister place, is this village. I have 
been talking to a Sister of Mercy, who 
is attending to four or five wounded 
men in an abandoned convent.* 

"I ordered them to ride on, and we 



penetrated into the principal street. On 
the right and left we could vaguely see 
roofless walls, hardly visible in the pro- 
found darkness. Here and there a hght 
was burning in a room; some family 
had remained to keep its house standing 
as long as they were able; a family of 
brave, or of poor, people. The rain be- 
gan to fall, a fine, icy-cold rain, which 
froze us before it wetted us through, 
by merely touching our cloaks. The 
horses stumbled against stones, against 
beams, against furniture. Marchas 
guided us, going before us on foot, and 
leading his horse by the bridle. 

" 'Where are you taking us to?' I 
asked him. And he replied: *I have a 
place for us to lodge in, and a rare 
good one.* And soon we stopped be- 
fore a small house, evidently belonging 
to some person of the middle class, com- 
pletely shut up, built on to the street 
^vith a garden in the rear. 

"Marchas broke open the lock by 
means of a big stone, which he picked 
up near the garden gate; then he 
mounted the steps, smashed in the front 
door with his feet and shoulders, lighted 
a bit of wax candle, which he was never 
without and preceded us into the com- 
fortable apartments of some rich pri- 
vate individual, guiding us with admir- 
able assurance, just as if he had lived 
in this house which he now saw for the 
first time. 

"Two troopers remained outside to 
take care of our horses; then Marchas 
said to stout Ponderel, who followed 
him: 'The stables must be on the left; 
I saw that as we came in; go and put 
the animals up there, for we do not 
want them,' and then turning to me he 



EPIPHANY 



247 



said: Give your orders, confound it 
aUi' 

"Marchas always astonished me, and 
I replied with a laugh: 'I shall post 
my sentinels at the country approaches 
and I will return to you here.' 

" 'How many men are you going to 
take?' 

" 'Five. The others will relieve them 
at five o'clock in the evening.' 

" 'Very well. Leave me four to look 
after provisions, to do the cooking, and 
to set the table. I will go and find out 
where the wine is hidden away.' 

"I went off to reconnoiter the de- 
serted streets, until they ended in the 
open country, so as to post my sentries 
there. 

"Half an hour later I was back, and 
found Marchas lounging in a great arm- 
chair, the covering of which he had 
taken off, from love of luxury as he said. 
He was warming his feet at the fire and 
smoking an excellent cigar, whose per- 
fume filled the room. He was alone, 
his elbows resting on the arms of the 
chair, his cheeks flushed, his eyes bright, 
and looking delighted. 

"I heard the noise of plates and 
dishes in the next room, and Marchas 
said to me, smiling in a beatific man- 
ner: This is famous; I found the 
champagne under the flight of steps out- 
side, the brandy — fifty bottles of the 
very finest — in the kitchen garden un- 
der a pear-tree, which did not look to me 
to be quite straight, when I looked at it 
by the light of my lantern. As for 
solids, we have two fowls, a goose, a 
duck, and three pigeons. They are be- 
ing cooked at this moment. It is a de- 
lightful part of the country.' 

"I had sat down opposite to him, and 



the fire in the grate was burning my 
nose and cheeks. 

" 'Where did you find this wood?' I 
asked. 

" 'Splendid wood,' he replied. 'The 
owner's carriage. It is the paint which 
is causing all this flam.e, an essence of 
alcohol and varnish. A capital house I* 

"I laughed, for I found the creature 
was funny, and he went on: Taney 
this being the Epiphany! I have had a 
bean put into the goose, but there is no 
queen; it is really very annoying!' And 
I repeated like an echo: *It is annoy- 
ing, but what do you want me to do in 
the matter?' 

" 'To find some, of course.' 

" 'Some women. Women? — you 
must be mad!' 

" *I managed to find the brandy un- 
der the pear-tree, and the champagne 
under the steps ; and yet there was noth- 
ing to guide me, while as for you, a 
petticoat is a sure sign. Go and look, 
old fellow.* 

*'He looked so grave, so convinced, 
that I could not tell whether he was 
joking or not. So I replied: 'Look 
here, Marchas, are you having a joke 
with me?' 

** 'I never joke on duty.' 

" 'But where the devil do you expect 
me to find any women?* 

" 'Where you like ; there must be two 
or three remaining in the neighborhood, 
so ferret them out and bring there here.' 

"I got up, for it was too hot in front 
of the fire, and Marchas went on: 'Do 
you want an idea?* 

«*Yes.' 

" *Go and see the pries*^/ 

« 'The priest? What for?' 



248 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



" *Ask him to supper, and beg him to 
bring a woman with him.' 

"The priest! A woman! Ha! ha! 
ha!' 

"But Marchas continued with extraor- 
dinary gravity: *I am not laughing; 
go and find the priest and tell him how 
we are situated, and, as he must be horri- 
bly dull, he will come. But tell him 
that we want one woman at least, a lady, 
of course* since we are all men of the 
world. He is sure to have the names of 
his female parishioners on the tips of 
his fingers, and if there is one to suit 
us, and you manage it well, he will in- 
dicate her to you.' 

" 'Come, come, Marchas, what are 
you thinking of?' 

" 'My dear Garens, you can do this 
quite well. It will be very funny. We 
are well bred, by Jove ! and we will put 
on our most distinguished manners and 
our grandest style. Tell the abbe who 
we are, make him laugh, soften him, 
seduce him, and persuade him!' 

" 'No, it is impossible.' 

"He drew his chair close to mine, and 
as he knew my weak side, the scamp 
continued: 'Just think what a swagger 
thing it will be to do, and how amus- 
ing to tell about; the whole army will 
talk about it, and it will give you a fa- 
mous reputation.' 

"I hesitated, for the adventure rather 
tempted me. He persisted: 'Come, my 
little Garens. You are in command of 
this detachment, and you alone can go 
and call on the head of the church in 
this neighborhood. I beg of you to go, 
and I promise you that after the war, 
1 will relate the whole affair in verse in 
the "Revue des Deux Mondes." You 
owe this much to your men, for you 



have made them march enough during 
the last month.' 

"I got up at last and asked: 'Where 
is the parsonage?' 

" Take the second turning at the end 
of the street; you will then see an ave- 
nue, and at the end of the avenue you 
will find the church. The parsonage is 
beside it.' As I departed he called 
out: 'Tell him the bill of fare, to 
make him hungry!' 

*'I discovered the ecclesiastic's little 
house without any difiiculty; it was by 
the side of a large, ugly, brick church. 
As there was neither bell nor knocker, 
I knocked at the door with my fist, and 
a loud voice from inside asked: 'Who 
is there?' to which I replied: *A quar- 
termaster of hussars.' 

"I heard the noise of bolts, and a key 
being turned. Then I found myself 
face to face with a tall priest with a 
large stomach, the chest of a prize- 
fighter, formidable hands projecting 
from turned-up sleeves, a red face, and 
the looks of a kind man. I gave him 
a military salute and said: 'Good day, 
Monsieur le Cure.' 

"He had feared a surprise, some ma- 
rauders' ambush, and he smiled as he 
replied: 'Good day, my friend; come 
in.* I followed him into a small room, 
with a red tiled floor, in which a small 
fire was burning, very different to Mar- 
chas's furnace. He gave me a chair and 
said: 'What can I do for you?' 

" 'Monsieur, allow me first of all to 
introduce myself; and I gave him my 
card, which he took and read half aloud: 
The Comte de Garens.* 

*'I continued: There are eleven of 
us here Monsieur I'Abbe. five on grand 



EPIPHANY 



249 



guard, and six installed at the house of 
an unknown inhabitant. The names of 
the six are, Garens (that is I), Pierre 
de Marchas, Ludovic de Ponderel, Baron 
d'Etreillis, Karl Massouligny, the 
painter's son, and Joseph Herbon, a 
young musician. I have come to ask 
you, in their name and my own, to do 
us the honor of supping with us. It 
is an Epiphany supper, Monsieur le 
Cure, and we should like to make it a 
little cheerful.* 

"The priest smiled and murmured: 
'It seems to me to be hardly a suit- 
able occasion for amusing oneself.* 

"I replied: 'We are fighting every 
day, Monsieur. Fourteen of our com- 
rades have been killed in a month, and 
three fell as late as yesterday. That 
is war. We stake our life every mo- 
ment: have we not, therefore, the right 
to amuse ourselves freely? We are 
Frenchmen, we like to laugh, and we 
can laugh everywhere. Our fathers 
laughed on the scaffold! This evening 
we should like to brighten ourselves up 
a little, like gentlemen, and not like 
soldiers; you understand me, I hope. 
Are we wrong?' 

"He replied quickly: 'You are quite 
right, my friend, and I accept your in- 
vitation with great pleasure.' Then he 
called out: 'Hermance!' 

"An old, bent, wrinkled, horrible, 
peasant woman appeared and said: 
*What do you want?' 

" 'I shall not dine at home, my daugh- 
ter.' 

" 'Where are you going to dine then?' 

*' 'With some gentlemen, hussars.' 

*'I felt inclined to say: 'Bring your 
servant with you,* just to see Marchas's 
face, but I did not venture to, and con- 



tinued: 'Do you know anyone among 
your parishioners, male or female, 
whom I could invite as well?' He hesi- 
tated, reflected, and then said: 'No, I 
do not know anybody!* 

"I persisted: 'Nobody? Come, Mon- 
sieur, think; it would be very nice to 
have some ladies, I mean to say, some 
married couples! I know nothing about 
your parishioners. The baker and his 
wife, the grocer, the — the — the — watch* 
maker — the — • shoemaker — the — the 
chemist with his wife. We have a good 
spread, and plenty of wine, and we 
should be enchanted to leave pleasant 
recollections of ourselves behind us with 
the people here.' 

"The priest thought again for a long 
time and then said resolutely: 'No, 
there is nobody.* 

"I began to laugh. 'By Jove, Mon- 
sieur le Cure, it is very vexing not to 
have an Epiphany queen, for we have 
the bean. Come, think. Is there not a 
married mayor, or a married deputy- 
mayor, or a married municipal councilor, 
or schoolmaster?' 

*' 'No, all the ladies have gone away.' 
*" What, is there not in the whole 
place some good tradesman's wife with 
her good tradesman, to whom we might 
give this pleasure, for it would be a 
pleasure to them, a great pleasure un- 
der present circumstances?' 

"But suddenly the cure began to 
laugh, and he laughed so violently tliat 
he fairly shook, and exclaimed: *Ha! 
ha! ha! I have got what you want, yes. 
I have got what you want! Ha! ha! 
ha! We will laugh and enjoy ourselves, 
my children, we will have some fun. 
How pleased the ladies will be, I say. 



250 



V/ORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



how delighted they will be. Ha! ha! 
Where arc you staying?' 

"I described the house, and he under- 
stood where it vv?as. 'Very good,' he 
said, 'It belongs to Monsieur Bertin- 
Lavaille. I will be there in half an 
hour, with four ladies. Ila! ha! ha! 
four ladies!' 

"He went out with me, still laughing, 
and left me, repeating: That is cap- 
ital; in half an hour at Sertin-Lavaille's 
house.' 

"I returned quickly, very much as- 
tonished and very much puzzled. 
'Covers for how many?' Marchas asked, 
as soon as he saw me. 

" 'Eleven. There are six of us hus- 
sars besides the priest and four ladies.' 

"He v/as thunderstruck, and I tri- 
\imphant, and he repeated: Four 
ladies! Did you say, four ladies?' 

*' T said four women.* 

" 'Real women?' 

" 'Real women.' 

"'Well, accept my compliments!' 

" 'I will, for I deserve them.' 

"He got out of his armchair, opened 
the door, and I saw a beautiful, white 
tablecloth on a long table, round which 
three hussars in blue aprons were set- 
ting out the plates and glasses. 'There 
are some women coming!' Marchas 
cried. And the three men began to 
dance and to cheer with all their might. 

"Everything was ready, and we were 
waiting. We waited for nearly an hour 
while a delicious smell of roast poultry 
pervaded the whole house. At last, 
however, a knock against the shutt'^rs 
made us all jump un at the same mo- 
ment. Stout Ponderel ran to open the 
door, and in less than a minute a little 
Sister of Mercy appeared in the door- 



way. She was thin, wrinkled, and timid, 
and successively saluted the four be- 
wildered hussars who saw her enter. 
Behind her, the noise of sticks sounded 
on the tiled floor in the vestibule. As 
soon as she had come into the draw- 
ing-room I saw three old heads in white 
caps, following each other one by one, 
balancing themselves with different 
movements, one canting to the right, 
v;hile the other canted to the left. Then 
three v/orthy women shov/ed themselves, 
limping, dragging their legs behind them, 
crippled by illness and deformed through 
old age, three infirm old women, past 
service, the only three pensioners who 
were able to walk in the establishment 
which Sister Saint-Benedict managed. 

"She had turned round to her invalids, 
full of anxiety for them, and then see- 
ing my quartermaster's stripes, stie said 
to mc: *I am much obliged to you for 
thinking of these poor women. They 
have very little pleasure in life, and 
you are at the same time giving them a 
great treat and doing them a great 
honor.* 

"I saw the priest, who had remained 
in the obscurity of the passage, and who 
was laughing heartily, and I began to 
laugh in my turn, especially when I saw 
Marchas's face. Then, motioning the 
nun to the seats, I said: 'Sit down. 
Sister: we are very proud and very 
happy that you have accepted our un- 
pretentious invitation.' 

"She took three chairs which stood 
against the wall, set them before the 
fire, led her three old women to them, 
settled them on them, took their sticks 
and shawls which she put into a cor- 
ner, and then, pointing to the first, a 
thin woman with an enormous stomach, 



EPIPHANY 



251 



who was evidently suffering from the 
dropsy, she said: 'This is Mother 
Paumelle, whose husband was killed by 
falling from a roof, and whose son died 
in Africa; she is sixty years old.' Then 
she pointed to another, a tall woman, 
whose head shook unceasingly: 'This 
is Mother Jean-Jean, who is sixty- 
seven. She is nearly blind, for her face 
was terribly singed in a fire, and her 
right leg was half burned off.' 

"Then she pointed to the third, a sort 
of drawf, with protruding, round, stu- 
pid eyes, which she rolled incessantly in 
all directions. 'This is La Putois, an 
idiot. She is only forty-four.* 

"I bowed to the three women as if I 
were being presented to some Royal 
Highness, and turning to the priest I 
said: 'You are an excellent man. Mon- 
sieur I'Abbe, and we all owe you a debt 
of gratitude.* 

"Everybody was laughing, in fact, ex- 
cept Marchas, who seemed furious, and 
just then Karl Massouligny cried: 'Sis- 
ter Saint-Benedict, supper is on the 
table!' 

"I made her go first with the priest, 
then I helped up Mother Paumelle, 
whose arm I took and dragged her into 
the next room, which was no easy task, 
for her swollen stomach seemed heavier 
than a lump of iron. 

"Stout Ponderel gave his arm to 
Mother Jean-Jean, who bemoaned her 
crutch, and little Joseph Herbon took 
the idiot, La Putois, to the dining-room, 
which was filled with the odor of the 
viands. 

"As soon as we were opposite our 
plates, the Sister clapped her hands 
three times, and, with the precision of 
soldiers presenting arms, the women 



made a rapid sign of the cross, and then 
the priest siowiy repeated tne 'Bene- 
dictus' in Latin. Then we sat down, 
and the two fowls appeared, brought in 
by Marchas, who chose to wait rather 
than to sit down as a guest at this ri- 
diculous repast. 

"But I cried: 'Bring the champagne 
at once!' and a cork flew out wlih the 
noise of a pistol, and in spite of the 
resistance of the priest and the kind Sis- 
ter, the three hussars sitting by the side 
of the three invalids, emptied their 
three full glasses down their throats by 
force. 

"Massouligny, who possessed the fac- 
ulty of making himself at home, and 
of being on good terms with everyone, 
wherever he was, made love to Mother 
Paumelle, in the drollest manner. The 
dropsical woman, who had retained her 
cheerfulness in spite of her misfortunes, 
answered him banteringly in a high fal- 
setto voice which seemed to be assumed, 
and she laughed so heartily at her 
neighbor's jokes that her large stomach 
looked as if it were going to rise up and 
get on to the table. Little Herbon had 
seriously undertaken the task of making 
the idiot dru^k, and Baron d'Etreillis 
whose wits were :iot always parti cularlj; 
charp, was questioning old Jean-Jean 
about the life, the habits, and the rules 
in the hospital. 

"The nun said to Massouligr.y in con- 
sternation: *0h! oh! you will make 
her ill ; pray do not make her laugh like 
that. Monsieur. Oh! Monsieur.' Then 
she got up and rushed at Plerbon to 
take a full glass out of his hands which 
he was hastily emptving down La 
Putoi^i's throat, while the priest shook 
with laughter, and said to the Sister: 



252 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



'Never mind, just this once, it will not 
hurt her. Do leave them alone.' 

"After the two fowls they ate the 
duck, which was flanked by the three 
pigeons and a blackbird, and then the 
goose appeared, smoking, golden-colored, 
and diffusing a warm odor of hot, 
browned fat meat. La Paumelle who 
was getting lively, clapped her hands; 
La Jean-Jean left off answering the 
Baron's numerous questions, and La 
Putois uttered grunts of pleasure, half 
cries and half sighs, like little children 
do when one shows them sweets. *AI- 
low me to carve this bird,' the cure 
said. *I understand these sort of opera- 
tions better than most people.* 

" 'Certainly, Monsieur I'Abbe,' and 
the Sister said: 'How would it be to 
open the window a little; they are too 
warm, and I am afraid they will be ill.' 

"I turned to Marchas: 'Open the 
window for a minute.' He did so; the 
cold outer air as it came in made the 
candles flare, and the smoke from the 
goose — which the cure was scientifically 
carving, with a table napkin round his 
neck — whirl about. We watched him 
doing it, without speaking now, for we 
were interested in his attractive handi- 
work, and also seized with renewed ap- 
petite at the sight of that enormous 
golden-colored bird, whose limbs fell 
one after another into the brown gravy 
at the bottom of the dish. At that mo- 
ment, in the midst of greedy silence 
which kept us all attentive, the distant 
report of a shot cam.e in at the open 
window. 

"I started to my feet so quickly that 
mv chair fell down behind me, and I 
fhou^pd- 'Mount, all of you! You, 



Marchas, will take two men and go and 
see what it is. I shall expect you back 
here in five minutes.' And while the 
three riders went off at full gallop 
through the night, I got into the saddle 
with my three remaining hussars, in 
front of the steps of the villa, while the 
cure, the Sister, and the three old 
women showed their frightened faces at 
the window. 

"We heard nothing more, except the 
barking of a dog in the distance. The 
rain had ceased, and it was cold, very 
cold. Soon I heard the gallop of a 
horse, of a single horse, coming back. 
It was Marchas, and I called out to 
him: 'Well?' 

" 'It is nothing; Frangois has 
wounded an old peasant who refused to 
answer his challenge and who continued 
to advance in spite of the order to keep 
off. They are bringing him here, and 
we shall see what is the matter.' 

"I gave orders for the horses to be 
put back into the stable, and I sent my 
two soldiers to meet the others, and re- 
turned to the house. Then the cure, 
Marchas and I took a mattress into the 
room to put the wounded man on; the 
Sister tore up a table napkin in order 
to make lint, while the three fright- 
ened women remained huddled up in a 
corner. 

"Soon I heard the rattle of sabers on 
the road, and I took a candle to show a 
light to the men who were returning. 
They soon appeared, carrying that 
inert, soft, long, and sinister object 
which a human body becomes when life 
no longer sustains it. 

"They put the wounded man on the 
mattress that had been prepared for 



SIMON'S PAPA 



253 



nim, and 1 saw at the first glance that 
he was dying. He had the death rattle, 
and was spitting up blood which ran out 
of the corners of his mouth, forced out 
of his lungs by his gasps. The man was 
covered with it! His cheeks, his beard, 
his hair, his neck, and his clothes seemed 
to have been rubbed, to have been 
dipped in a red tub; the blood had con- 
gealed on him, and had become a dull 
color which was horrible to look at. 

"The old man, wrapped up in a large 
shepherd's cloak, occasionally opened 
his dull, vacant eyes. They seemed 
stupid with astonishment, like the eyes 
of hunted animals which fall at the 
sportsman's feet, half dead before the 
shot, stupefied with fear and surprise. 

"The cure exclaimed: 'Ah! there is 
old Placide, the shepherd from Les 
Marlins. He is deaf, poor man, and 
heard nothing. Ah! Oh, God! they 
have killed the unhappy man!' The 
Sister had opened his blouse and shirt, 
and was looking at a little blue hole in 
the middle of his chest, which was not 
bleeding any more. There is nothing 
to be done,' she said. 

"The shepherd was gasping terribly 
and bringing up blood with every breath. 
In his throat to the very depth of his 
lungs, they could hear an ominous and 
continued gurgling. The cure, standing 
in front of him, raised his right hand. 



made the sign of the cross, and in a 
slow and solemn voice pronounced the 
Latin words which purify men's couls. 
But before they were finished, the old 
man was shaken by a rapid shudder, as 
if something had broken inside him; he 
no longer breathed. He was dead. 

"When I turned round I saw a sight 
which was even more horrible than the 
death struggle of this unfortunate man. 
The three old women were standing up 
huddled close together, hideous, and 
grimacing with fear and horror. I went 
up to them, and they began to utter 
shrill screams, while La Jean-Jean, 
whose leg had been burned and could 
not longer support her, fell to the 
ground at full length. 

"Sister Saint-Benedict left the dead 
man, ran up to her infirm old women, 
and without a word or a look fo^ me 
wrapped their shawls round them, gave 
them their crutches, pushed them to the 
door, made them go out, and disap- 
peared with them into the dark night. 

"I saw that I could not even let a 
hussar accompany them, for the meit! 
rattle of a sword would have sent them 
mad with fear. 

"The cure was still looking at the 
dead man; but at last he turned to me 
and said: 

" 'Oh! What a horrible thmg.' " 



Simon^s Papa 



Noon had just struck. The school- 
door opened and the youngsters 
streamed out tumbling over one another 



in their haste to get out quickly. Bu' 
instead of promptly dispersing and go- 
ing home to dinner as was their daily 



254 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



wontf the> stopped a few paces off, 
broke up into knots and set to whisper- 
ing. 

The fact was that that morning Si- 
mon, the son of La Blanchotte, had, for 
the first time, attended school. 

They had all of them in their families 
heard of La Blanchotte; and although 
in public she was welcome enough, the 
mothers among themselves treated her 
with compassion of a somewhat disdain- 
ful kind, which the children had caught 
without in the least knowing why. 

As for Simon himself, they did not 
know him, for he never went abroad, 
and did not play around with them 
through the streets of the village or 
along the banks of the river. So they 
loved him but little; and it was with a 
certain delight, mJnglcd with astonish- 
ment, that they gathered in groups this 
morning, repeating to each other this 
sentence, concocted by a lad of four- 
teen or fifteen who appeared to know 
all about it, so sagaciously did he wink: 
"You know Simon -— well, he has no 
papa." 

La Blanchotte*s son appeared in his 
turn upon the threshold of the school. 

He was seven or eight years old, 
rather pale, very neat, with a timid and 
almost awkward manner. 

He was making his way back to his 
mother's house when the various groups 
of his schoolfellows, perpetually whis- 
pering, and watching him with the mis- 
chievous and heartless eyes of children 
bent upon playing a nasty trick, gradu- 
ally surrounded him and ended by in- 
closing altogether. There he stood amid 
them, surnrised and embarrassed, not 
understanding what Ihey were going to 
do v/ith hira. But the lad who had 



brfught the news, puffed up with the 
success he had met with, demanded: 

"What do you call yourself?" 

He answered: "Simon." 

*Simon what?" retorted the other. 

The child, altogether bewildered, re- 
peated: "Simon." 

The lad shouted at him: "You must 
be named Simon something! That is 
not a name — Simon indeed!" 

And he, on the brink of tears, replied 
for the third time: 

"I am named Simon." 

The urchins began laughing. Tlie lad 
triumphantly lifted up his voice: "You 
can see plahily that h?. has no papa." 

A deep silence ensued. The children 
were dumfounded by this extraordinary, 
impossibly monstrous thing — a boy who 
had not a papa; they looked upon him 
as a phenomenon, an unnatural being, 
and they felt rising in them the hitherto 
inexplicable pity of their mothers for 
La Blanchotte. As for Simon, he had 
propped himself against a tree to avoid 
failing, and he stood there as if para^ 
yzed by an irreparable disaster. He 
sought to explain, but he could think of 
no answer for them, no way to deny this 
horrible charge that he had no papa. 
At last he shouted at them quite reck- 
lessly: "Yes, I have one." 

"Where is he?" demanded the boy. 

Simon was silent, he did not know. 
The children shrieked, tremendously ex- 
cited. These sons of toil, nearly related 
to animals, experienced the cruel crav- 
ing which makes the fowls of a farm- 
yard destroy one of their own kind as 
soon as it is wounded. Simon suddenly 
spied a little neighbor, the son of a 
widow, whom he had always seen, as he 



SIMON'S PAPA 



23$ 



himself was to be seen, quite alone with 
his mother. 

'*And no mere have you," he said, 
"no more have you a papa.'' 

"Yes," rephed the other, *1 have 
one." 

"Where is he?" rejoined Simon. 

"He is dead," declared the brat with 
superb dignity, 'he is in the cemetery, 
is my papa." 

A murmur of approval rose amid the 
scapegraces, as if the fact of possessmg 
a papa dead in a cemetery made their 
comrade big enough to crush the other 
one who had no papa at ail. And these 
rogues, whose fathers were for the most 
part evil-doers, drunkards, thievts, and 
ill-treat ers of their wives hustled each 
other as they pressed closer and closer 
to Simon as though they, the H^itimate 
ones, would stifle ih their pressure ont 
who was beyond the law. 

The lad next Simon suddenly put his 
tongue out at him with a waggish air 
and shouted at him : 

"No papa! No papa!" 

Simon seized him by the hair with 
both hands and set to work to de- 
molish his legs with kicks, while he bit 
his cheek ferociously. A tremendous 
struggle ensued between the two boys, 
and Simon found himself beaten, torn, 
bruised, rolled on the ground in tne mid- 
dle of the ring of applauding little vaga- 
bonds. As he arose, mechanically 
brushing his little blouse all covered 
with dust with his hand, some one 
shouted at him: 

"Go and tell your pa])a.*' 

He then felt a great ninking in his 
heart. They were stronger than he, 
they had beaten hir^ and he had no an- 
swer to give them, for he knew it was 



true that he had no papa. Full of pride 
he tried for some moments to struggle 
against the tears which were suffocating 
him. He had a choking fit, and then 
without cries he began to weep with 
great sobs which shook him incessantly. 
Then a ferocious joy broke out among 
his enemies, and, just like savages in 
fearful festivals, they took one another 
by the hand and danced in a circle about 
him as they repeated in refrain: 

"No papa! No papa!" 

But suddenly Simon ceased sobbinpr. 
Frenzy overtook him. There were 
stones under hie feet; he picked them 
up and with all his strength hurled them 
at his tormentors. Two or three were 
struck and ran away yelling, and so 
formidable did he appear that the rest 
became panic-strickjn. Cowards, like 
a jeering crowd 11 the presence of an 
exasperated man, they broke up and 
fled. Left alone, the little thing with- 
out a father set off running toward the 
fields, for a recollection had been awak- 
ened which nerved his soul to a great 
determination. He made up his mind to 
drown himself in the river. 

lie remembered, in fact, that eight 
days ago a poor devil who begged for 
his livelihood had thrown himself into 
the water because he had no more 
money. Simon had been there when 
they fished him out again; and the 
sight of the fellow, who had reemed to 
him so miserable and ugly, had then im- 
pressed him — ^his pale cheeks, his long 
drenched beard, and his open eyes beinij 
full of calm. The bystanders had saidi 

"He is dead." 

And some one had added: 

"He is qu.te Lappy now." 

So Simon wished to drown himself 



256 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



also because he had no father, just as 
the wretched being did who had no 
money. 

He reached the water and watched it 
flowing. Some fishes were rising briskly 
in the clear stream and occasionally 
made little leaps and caught the flies 
on the surface. He stopped crying in 
order to watch them, for their feeding 
interested him vastly. But, at intervals, 
as in the lulls of a tempest, when tre- 
mendous gusts of wind snap off trees 
ac^d then die away, this thought would 
return to him with intense pain: 

"I am about to drown myself because 
I have no papa." 

It was very warm and fine weather. 
The pleasant sunshine warmed the 
grass; the water shcne like a mirror; 
and Simon enjoyed for some minutes 
the happiness of that languor which fol- 
lows weeping, desirous even of falling 
asleep there upon the grass in the 
warmth of noon. 

A little green frong leaped from under 
his feet. He endeavored to catch it. 
It escaped him. He pursued it and lost 
it three times following. At last he 
caught it by one of its hind legs and 
began to laugh as it saw the efforts the 
creature made to escape. It gathered 
itself up on its large legs and then with 
a violent spring suddenly stretched them 
out as stiff p.s two bars. 

Its eyes stared wide open in their 
round, golden circle, and it beat the air 
with its front limbs, using them as 
though they were hands. It reminded 
him of a toy made with straight slips 
of wood nailed zigzag one on the other, 
which by a similar movement regulated 
the exercise of the little soldiers fastened 
thereon. Then he thought of his home 



and of his mother, and overcome by 
great sorrow he again began to weep. 
His lips trembled; and he placed him- 
self on his knees and said his prayers as 
before going to bed. But he was unable 
to finish them, for such hurried and vio- 
lent sobs overtook him that he was com- 
pletely overwhelmed. He thought no 
more, he no longer heeded anything 
around him but was wholly given up to 
tears. 

Suddenly a heavy hand was placed 
upon his shoulder, and a rough voice 
asked him: 

"What is it that causes you so much 
grief, mv Tme fellow?" 

Simon turned round. A tall work- 
man, with a black beard and hair all 
curled, was staring at him good- 
naturedly. He answered with his eyes 
and throat full of tears: 

"They have beaten me because — I — I 
have no papa — no papa." 

"What!" said the man smiling, "why, 
everybody has one." 

The ct ild answered painfully amid his 
spasmj of grief: 

"But I— I— I have none." 

Then the workman became serious 
He had recognized La Blanchotte's son, 
and although a recent arrival to the 
neighborhood he had a vague idea of her 
history. 

"Well," said he, "console yourself, 
my boy, and come with me home to 
your mother. She will give you a 
papa." 

And so they started on the way, the 
big one holding the little one by the 
hand. The man smiled afresh, for he 
was not sorry to see this Blanchotte, 
who by popular report was one of the 
prettiest girls in the country-side-- -and, 



SIMON'S PAPA 



257 



perhaps, he said to himself, at the bot- 
tom of his heart, that a lass who had 
erred once might very well err again. 

They arrived in front of a very neat 
little white house. 

'There it is," exclaimed the child, and 
he cried: "Mamma." 

A woman appeared, and the workman 
instantly left off smiling, for he at once 
perceived that there was no more fool- 
ing to be done with the tall pale girl, 
who stood austerely at her door as 
though to defend from one man the 
threshold of that house where she had 
already been betrayed by another. In- 
timidated, his cap in his hand, he stam- 
mered out: 

"See, Madame, I have brought you 
back your little boy, who had lost him- 
self near the river." 

But Simon flung his arms about his 
mother's neck and told her, as he again 
began to cry: 

*'No, mamma, I wished to drown my- 
self, because the others had beaten me 
— ^had beaten me — ^because I have no 
papa.'* 

A burning redness covered the young 
woman's cheeks, and, hurt to the quick, 
she embraced her child passionately, 
while the tears coursed down her face. 
The man, much moved, stood there, 
not knowing how to get away. But 
Simon suddenly ran to him and said: 

"Will you be my papa?" 

A deep silence ensued. La Blan- 
chotte, dumb and tortured with shame, 
leaned against the v/all, her hands upon 
her heart. The child, seeing that no an- 
swer was made him, replied: 

"If you do not wish it, I shall return 
to drown mvsdf." 



The workman took the matter as a 
jest and answered laughing: 

"Why, yes, I wish it certainly." 

"What is your name, then," went, on 
the child, "so that I may tell the others 
when they wish to know your name?" 

* 'Philip," answered the man. 

Simon was silent a moment so that he 
might get the name well into his mem- 
ory; then he stretched out his arms, 
quite consoled, and said: 

"Well, then, Philip, you are my 
papa." 

The workman, lifting him from the 
ground, kissed him hastily on both 
cheeks, and then strode away quickly. 

When the child returned to school 
next day he was received with a spite- 
ful laugh, and at the end of school, 
when the lads were on the point of 
recommencing, Simon threw these 
words at their heads as he would have 
done a stone: "He is named Philip, my 
papa." 

Yells of delight burst out from all 
sides. 

"Philip who? Philip what? What 
on earth is Philip? Where did you pick 
up your Philip?" 

Simon answered nothing; and im- 
movable in faith he defied them with 
his eye, ready to be martyred rather 
than fly before them. The schoolmaster 
came to his rescue and he returned home 
to his mother. 

For a space of three months, the tall 
workman, Philip, frequently passed by 
La Bianchotte's house, and sometimes 
made bold to speak to her when he saw 
her sewing near the window. She an- 
swered him civilly, always sedately, 
never joking with him, nor permitting 
him to enter her house. Notwithstand- 



258 



V/ORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



ing this, being, like all men, a bit of a 
coxconib, he imagined that she was 
often rosier than UoUal when she chatted 
with h.ni. 

But a fallen reputation is so difficult 
to recover, and always remains so frag- 
ile that, in spite of the shy reserve La 
Blanchotte maintained, they already 
gossiped in the neighborhood. 

As for Simon, he loved his new papa 
much, and walked with him nearly every 
evening when the day's work was done. 
He went regularly to school and mixed 
in a dignified way with his schoolfellows 
without ever answering them back. 

One day, however, the lad who had 
fitst attacked him said to him: 

"You have lied. You have not ? 
p^pa named Philip.*' 

"Why do you say that?" demanded 
Simor, much disturbed. 

The youth rubbed his hands. He re- 
plied : 

"Because if ycu had one he would be 
your mamma's husband." 

Simon was confused by the truth of 
this reasoning; never' heless he retorted: 

"He is my papa all the same." 

"That can very well be," exclaimed 
the urchin with a sneer, "but that is not 
being your papa altogether." 

La Blanchotte's little one bowed his 
head and went cff dreaming in the di- 
rection of the forge belonging to old 
Loizon, where Philip v/orked. 

This forge was entombed in trees. 
It was very dark there, the red glare of 
a formidable furnace alone lit up with 
great flashes five blacksmiths, who ham- 
mered upon the^T anvils with a t^rr'ble 
din. Stpndin»^ enveloped in flame, they 
worked like demons, their eyes fixed on 
the red-hot iron they were pounding; 



and their dull ideas rising and falling 
with their hammers. 

Simon entered without being noticed 
and quietly plucked his friend by the 
sleeve. Philip turned round. All at once 
the v/ork came to a standstill and the 
men looked on very attentively. Then, in 
the midst of this unaccustomed silence, 
rose the little slender pipe of Simon: 

"Philip, explain to me what the lad at 
La Michande has just told me, that you 
are not altogether m.y papa." 

"And why that?" asked the smith. 

The child replied in all innocence: 

"Because you are not my mam.ma*s 
husband." 

No one laughed. Philip remained 
standing, leaning his forehead upon the 
back of his great hands, which held the 
handle of his hammer upright upon the 
anvil. He mused. His four companions 
watched him, and, like a tiny mite 
among these giants, Simon anxiously 
v/aited. Suddenly, one of the smiths, 
voicing the sentiment of all, said to 
Philip: 

"All the same La Blanchotte is a good 
and honest girl, stalwart and steady in 
spite of her misfortune, and one who 
would make a worthy wife for an honest 
man." 

"That 13 true," remarked the three 
others. 

The smiti: continued: 

"Is it the girl's fault if she has fallen? 
She had been promised marriage, and I 
know more than one who is much re- 
spected to-day and has sinned every 
bit as much." 

"That is true," responded the three 
men in chorus. 

He resumed: 

"How hard she has toiled, poor thing 



WAITER. A BOCK 



259 



to educate her lad all alone, and how 
much she has wept since she no longer 
goes out, save to church, God only 
knows." 

"That also is true," said the others. 

Then no more was heard save the roar 
of the bellows which fanned the fire of 
the furnace. Philip hastily bent himself 
down to Simon: 

"Go and tell your mamma that I 
shall come to speak to her." 

Then he pushed the child out by the 
shoulders. He returned to his work and 
in unison the five hammers again fell 
upon their anvils. Thus they wrought 
the iron until nightfall, strong, power- 
ful, happy, like Vulcans satisfied. But 
I as the great bell of a cathedral resounds 
' upon feast days above the jingling of the 
other bells, so Philip's hammer, domi- 
nating the noise of the others, clanged 
second after second with a deafening up- 
roar. His eye on the fire, he plied his 
trade vigorously, erect amid the sparks. 

The sky was full of stars as he 
knocked at La Blanchotte's door. He 
had his Sunday blouse on, a fresh shirt, 
and his beard was trimmed. The young 
woman showed herself upon the thres- 
hold and said in a grieved tone: 

*Tt is ill to come thus when night has 
fallen, Mr. Philip." 

He wished to answered, but stam- 
mered and stood confused before her. 

She resumed: 



"And you understand quite well that 
it will not do that I should be talked 
about any more." 

Then he said all at once: 

"What does that matter to me, if you 
will be my wife!" 

No voice replied to him, but he be- 
lieved that he heard in the shadov/ of 
the room the sound of a body falling. 
He entered very quickly; and Simon, 
who had gone to his bed, distinguished 
the sound of a kiss and some words that 
his mother said very softly. Then he 
suddenly found himself lifted up by 
the hands of his friend, who, holding 
him at the length of his herculean arms, 
exclaimed to him: 

"You will tell your school-fellows that 
your papa is Philip Remy, the black- 
smith, and that he will pull the ears of 
all who do you any harm." 

On the morrow, when the school was 
full and lessons about to begin, little 
Simon stood up quite pale with trem- 
bling lips: 

"My papa," said he in a clear voice, 
"is Philip Remy, the blacksmith, and 
he has promised to box the ears of all 
who do me any harm." 

This time no one laughed any longer, 
for he was very well known, was Philip 
Remy, the blacksmith, and he was a 
papa of whom anyone in the world 
would be proud. 



Waiter, a Bock! 



* 



Why on this particular evening, did 
I enter a certain beer shop? I cannot 
explain it. It was bitterly cold. A fine 
rain, a watery mist floated about, veil- 



ing the gas jets in a transparent fog, 
maldng the pavements under the shadow 



* Bavarian beer. 



260 



WORKS OF GUY I>E MAUPASSANT 



of the shop fronts glitter, which re- 
vealed the soft slush and the soiled feet 
of the passers-by. 

I was going nowhere in particular; 
was simply having a short walk after 
dinner. I had passed the Credit Lyon- 
nais, the Rue Vivienne, and several 
other streets. Suddenly I descried a 
large cafe, which was more than half 
full. I walked inside, with no object 
in mind. I v»ras not the least thirsty. 

By a searching glance I detected a 
place where I would not be too much 
crowded. So I went and sat down by 
the side of a man who seemed to me to 
be old, and who smoked a half-penny 
day pipe, which had become as black as 
.":oaL From six to eight beer saucers 
were piled up on the table in front of 
him, indicating the number of "bocks" 
he had already absorbed. With that 
same glance I had recognized in him a 
''regular toper," one of those frequenters 
of beer-houses, who come in the morn- 
ing as soon as the place is open, and 
only go away in the evening when it is 
about to close. He was dirty, bald to 
about the middle of the cranium, while 
his long gray hair fell over the neck of 
his frock coat. His clothes, much too 
large for him, appeared to have been 
made for him at a time when he was 
very stout. One could guess that his 
pantaloons were not held up by braces, 
and that this man could not take ten 
paces without having to pull them up 
and readjust them. Did he wear a 
vest? The mere thought of his boots 
and the feet they enveloped filled me 
with horror. The frayed cuffs were as 
black at the edges as were his nails. 

As soon as I had sat down near him, 



this queer creature said to me in a tran- 
quil tone of voice: 

**How goes it with you?" 

I turned sharply round to him and 
closely scanned his features, whereupon 
he continued: 

"I see you do not recognize me." 

"No, I do not." 

"Des Barrets." 

I was stupefied. It was Count Jean 
des Barrets, my old college chum. 

I seized him by the hand, so dum- 
founded that I could find nothing to 
say. I, at length, managed to stammer 
out: 

"And you, how goes it with you?" 

He responded placidly: 

"With me? Just as I like." 

He became silent. I wanted to be 
friendly, and I selected this phrase: 

"What are you doing now?" 

""^^ou see what I am doing," he an- 
swered, quite resignedly. 

T fell my face getting red. I insisted' 

"But every day?" 

"Every day Is alike to me," was his 
response, accompanied with a thick puff 
of tobacco sm.oke. 

He then tapped on the top oi the 
marble table with a sou, to attract the 
attention of the waiter, and called out: 

"Waiter, two 'bocks.' " 

A voice in the distance repeated: 

"Two 'bocks,* instead of four." 

Another voice, more distant still, 
shouted out: 

"Here they are, sir, here they are." 

Immediately there appeared a man 
with a white apron, carrying two 
"bocks," which he set down foaming 
on the table, the foam running over the 
edge, on to the sandv floor. 



WAITER, A BOCK 



261 



Des Barrets emptied his glass at a sin- 
gle draught and replaced it on the table, 
sucking in the drops of beer that had 
been left on his mustache. He next 
asked : 

"What is there new?" 

"I know of nothing new, worth men- 
tioning, really," I stammered: "But 
nothing has grown old for me; I am a 
commercial man." 

In an equable tone of voice, he said: 

"Indeed — does that amuse you?" 

"No, but what do you mean by that? 
Surely you must do something!' 

"What do you mean by that?" 

"I only mean, how do you pass your 
time!" 

"What's the use of occupying myself 
with anything. For my part, I do noth- 
ing at all, as you see, never anything. 
When one has not got a sou one can 
understand why one has to go to work. 
What is the good of working? Do you 
work for yourself, or for others? If 
you work for yourself you do it for 
your own amusement, which is all right; 
if you work for others, you reap noth- 
ing but ingratitude." 

Then sticking his pipe into his mouth, 
he called out anew: 

"Waiter, a 'bock.' It makes me thirsty 
to keep calling so. I am not accus- 
tomed to that sort of thing. Yes, I 
do nothing; I let things slide, and I am 
growing old. In dying I shall have 
nothing to regret. If so, I should re- 
member nothing, outside this public- 
house. I have no wife, no children, no 
cares, no sorrows, nothing. That is the 
very best thing that could happen to 



one. 



He then emptied the glass which had 



been brought him, passed his tongue 
over his lips, and resumed his pipe. 

I looked at him stupefied and asked 
him: 

"But you have not always been like 
that?" 

"Pardon me, sir; ever since I lefi 
college." 

"It is not a proper life to lead, my 
dear sir; it is simply horrible. Come, 
you must indeed have done something, 
you must have loved something, you 
must have friends." 

"No; I get up at noon, I come here, 
I have my breakfast, I drink my 'bock'; 
I remain until evening, I have my din- 
ner, I drink 'bock.* Then about one 
in the morning, I return to my couch, 
because the place closes up. And it 
is this latter that embitters me more 
than anything. For the last ten years, 
I have passed six-tenths of my time on 
this bench, in my comer; and the other 
four-tenths in my bed, never changing. 
I talk sometimes with the habitues" 

"But on arriving in Paris what did 
you do at first?" 

I paid my devoirs to the Cafe de 
Medicis." 

"What next?" 

"Next? I crossed the water and 
came here." 

"Why did you take even that trou- 
ble?" 

"What do you mean? One cannot 
remain all one's life in the Latin Quar- 
ter. The students make too much noise. 
But I do not move about any longer. 
Waiter, a 'bock.'" 

I now began to think that he was 
making fun of me, and I continued: 

"Come now, be frank. You have * ej? 



262 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



the victim of some great sorrow; 
despair in love, no doubt! It is easy 
to see that you are a man whom mis- 
fortune has hit hard. What age are 
you?" 

"I am thirty years of age, but I look 
to be forty-five at least." 

I looked him straight in the face. 
His shrunken figure, badly cared for, 
gave one the impression that he was an 
old man. On the summit of his cranium, 
a few long hairs shot straight up from 
a skin of doubtful cleanness. He had 
enormous eyelashes, a large mustache, 
and a thick beard. Suddenly I had a 
kind of vision, I Imow not why — the 
vision of a basin filled with noisome 
water, the water which should have 
been applied to that poll. I said to 
him: 

"Verily, you look to be more than 
ihat age. Of a certainty you must have 
experienced some great dissappoint- 
ment." 

He replied: 

"I tell you that I have not. I am old 
because I never take air. There is noth- 
ing that vitiates the life of a man more 
than the atmosphere of a cafe" 

I could not believe him. 

"You must surely have been married 
as well? One could not get baldheaded 
as you are without having been much 
in love." 

He shook his head, sending down his 
back little hairs from the scalp : 

"No, I have always been virtuous." 

And raising his eyes toward the luster, 
which beat down on our heads, he said: 

"If I am baldheaded, it is the fault 
of the ^as. It is the enemy of hair. 
Waiter . *bock.* You must ^>e thirsty 
also?'* 



"No, thank you. But you certainly 
interest me. When did you have your 
first discouragement? Your life is not 
normal, is not natural. There is some- 
thing under it all." 

"Yes, and it dales from my infancy. 
I received a heavy blow when I was 
very young. It turned my life into 
darkness, which will last to the end." 

"How did it come about?" 

"You wish to know about it? Well, 
then, listen. You recall, of course, the 
castle in which I was brought up, seeing 
that you used to visit it for five or six 
months during the vacations? You re- 
member that large, gray building in the 
middle of a great park, and the long 
avenues of oaks, which opened toward 
the four cardinal points! You remem- 
ber my father and my mother, both oi 
v/hom were ceremonious, solemn,, and 
severe. 

"I worshiped my mother; I was sus- 
picious of my father; but I respected 
both, accustomed always as I was to 
see everyone bow before them. In 
the country, they were Monsieur le 
Comte and Madame la Comtesse; and 
our neighbors, the Tannemares, the 
Ravelets, the Brennevilles, showed the 
utmost consideration for them. 

"I was then thirteen years old, happy, 
satisfied with everything, as one is at 
that age, and full of joy and vivacity. 

"Now toward the end of September, a 
few days before entering the Lycee, 
while I was enjoying myself in the 
mazes of the park, climbing the trees 
and swinging on the branches, I saw 
crossing an avenue my father and 
mother, who were walking together. 

"I recall the thing as though it were 
yesterday. It was a very windy day. 



WAITER, A BOCK 



263 



The whole line of trees bent under the 
pressure of the wind, moaned and 
seemed to utter cries — cries dull, yet 
deep — so that the whole forest groaned 
under the gale. 

"Evening had come on, and it was 
dark in the thickets. The agitation of 
the wind and the branches excited me, 
made me skip about like an idiot, and 
howl in imitation of the wolves. 

"As soon as I perceived my parents, 
I crept furtively tovrard them, under 
the branches, in order to surprise them, 
as though I had been a vertible wolf. 
But suddenly seized with fear, I stopped 
a few paces from them. My father, a 
prey to the most violent passion, cried: 

" 'Your mother is a fool ; moreover, 
it is not your mother that is the ques- 
tion, it is you. I tell you that I want 
money, and I will make you sign this.* 

"My mother responded in a firm 



voice : 
(( < 



I will not sign it. It is Jean's for- 
tune, I shall guard it for him and I will 
not allow you to devour it with strange 
women, as you have your own heritage.* 

"Then my father, full of rage, 
wheeled round and seized his wife by 
the throat, and began to slap her full 
in the face with the disengaged hand. 

"My mother's hat fell off, her hair be- 
came disheveled and fell down her 
back: she essayed to parry the blows, 
but could not escape from them. And 
my father, like a madman, banged and 
banged at her. My mother rolled over 
on the ground, covering her lace in 
both her hands. Then he turned her 
over on her back in order to batter her 
still more, pulling away the hands which 
were covering her face. 

"As for me, my friend, it seemed as 



though the world had come to an end, 
that the eternal laws had changed. I 
experienced the overwhelmmg dread 
that one has in presence of things super- 
natural, in presence of irreparable dis- 
aster. My boyish head whirled round 
and soared. I began to cry with all my 
might, without knowing why, a prey to 
terror, to grief, to a dreadful bewilder- 
ment. My father heard me. I believed 
that he wanted to kill me, and I fled 
like a hunted animal, running straight 
in front of me through the woods. 

"I ran perhaps for an hour, perhaps 
for two, I know not. Darkness had set 
in, I tumbled over some thick herbs, ex- 
hausted, and I lay there lost, devoured 
by terror, eaten up by a sorrow capable 
of breaking forever the heart of a child. 
I became cold, I became hungry. At 
bngth day broke. I dared neither get 
up, walk, return home, nor save myself, 
fearing to encounter my father whom I 
did not wish to see again. 

"I should probably have died of 
misery and of hunger at the foot of a 
tree if the guard had not discovered 
me and led me by force. 

"I found my parents wearing their 
ordinary aspect. My mother alone spoke 
to me: 

" 'How you have frightened me, you 
naughty boy; I have been the whole 
night sleepless.' 

"I did not answer, but began to weep. 
My father did not utter a single word. 

"Eight days later I entered Lycee. 

"Well, my friend, it was all over with 
me. I had witnessed the other side of 
things, the bad side; I have not been 
able to perceive the good side since that 
day. What things have passed in my 
mind, what strange phenomena have 



264 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



warped my ideas, I do not know. But 
I no longer have a taste for anything, a 
wish for anything, a love for anybody, a 
desire for anything whatever, no ambi- 
tion, no hope. And I always see my 
poor mother lying on the ground, in the 
avenue, while my father was maltreat- 
ing her. My mother died a few years 
after; my father lives still. I have not 
seen him since. Waiter, a *bock.' " 
A waiter brought hiiii his "bock," 



which he swallowed at a gulp. But, in 
taking up his pipe again, trembling as 
he was, he broke it. Then he made a 
violent gesture: 

"Zounds! This is indeed a grief, a 
real grief. I have had it for a month, 
and it was coloring so beautifully!" 

Then he went off through the vast 
saloon, which was now full of smoke 
and of people drinking, calling out: 

"Waiter, a 'bock' — and a new pipe " 



The Sequel to a Divorce 



Certainly, although he had been en- 
gaged in the most extraordinary, most 
unlikely, most extravagant, and funniest 
cases, and had won legal games without 
a trump in his hand — although he had 
worked out the obscure law of divorce, 
as if it had been a Californian gold 
mine, Maitre* Garrulier, the celebrated, 
the only Garrulier, could not check a 
movement of surprise, nor a dishearten- 
ing shake of the head, nor a smile, when 
the Countess de Baudemont explained 
her affairs to him for the first time. 

He had just opened his correspon- 
dence, and his slender hands, on which 
he bestowed the greatest attention, 
buried themselves in a heap of female 
letters, and one might have thought one- 
self in the confessional of a fashionable 
preacher, so impregnated was the atmos- 
phere with delicate perfumes. 

Immediately — ^even before she had 
said a word — ^with the sharp glance of a 
practised man of the world, that look 
which made beautiful Madame de Ser- 
penoise say: "He strips your heart 



bare!" the lawyer had classed her in 
the third category. Those who suffer 
came into his first category, those who 
love, into the second, and those who are 
bored, into the third — and she belonged 
to the latter. 

She was a pretty windmill, whose sails 
turned and flew round, and fretted the 
blue sky with a delicious shiver of joy, 
as it were, tind had the brain of a bird, 
in which four correct and healthy ideas 
cannot exist side by side, and in which 
all dreams and every kind of folly are 
engulfed, like a great kaleidoscope. 

Incapable of hurting a fly, emotional, 
charitable, v/ith a feeling of tenderness 
for the street girl who sells bunches of 
violets for a penny, for a cab horse 
which a driver is ill-using, for a mel- 
ancholy pauper's funeral, when the 
body, without friends or relations to 
follow it, is being conveyed to the com- 
mon grave, doing anything that might 
afford five minutes' amusement, not 



*Title given to advocates in France 



THE SEQUEL TO A DIVORCE 



265 



caring if she made men miserable for 
the rest of their days, and taking plea- 
sure in kindling passions which consumed 
men's whole being, looking upon life as 
too short to be anything else than one 
uninterrupted round of gaiety and en- 
joyment, she thought that people might 
find plenty of time for being serious and 
reasonable in the evening of life, when 
they are at the bottom of the hill, ana 
their looking-glasses reveal a wrinkled 
face, surrounded with white hair. 

A thorough-bred Parisian, whom one 
would follow to the end of the world, 
like a poodle; a woman whom one 
adores with the head, the heart, and 
the senses until one is neady driven 
mad, as soon as one has inhaled the 
delicate perfume that emanates from 
her dress and hair, or touched her skin, 
and heard her laugh ; a woman for whom 
one would fight a duel and risk one's 
life without a thought; for whom a 
man would remove mountains, and sell 
his soul to the devil several times over, 
if the devil were still in the habit of 
frequenting the places of bad repute on 
this earth. 

She had perhaps come to see this 
Garrulier, whom she had so often heard 
mentioned at five o'clock teas, so as to 
be able to describe him to her female 
friends subsequently in droll phrases, 
imitating his gestures and the unctuous 
inflections of his voice, in order, perhaps, 
to experience some new sensation, or, 
perhaps, for the sake of dressing like a 
woman who was going to try for a di- 
vorce; and, certainly, the whole effect 
was perfect. She wore a splendid cloak 
embroidered with jet— -which gave an 
almost serious effect to her golden hair, 
to her small slightly turned-UD nose, 



with its quivering nostrils, and to hei 
large eyes, full of enigma and fun — over 
a dark stuff dress, which was fastened 
at the neck by a sapphire and a diamond 
pin. 

The barrister did not interrupt her, 
but allowed her to get excited and to 
chatter, to enumerate her causes for 
complaint against poor Count de Baud6- 
mont, who certainly had no suspicion of 
his wife's escapade, and who would have 
been very much surprised if anyone told 
him of it at that moment, when he was 
taking his fencing lesson at the club. 

AVhen she had quite finished, he said 
coolly, as if he were throwing a pail of 
water on some burning straw: 

"But, Madame, there is not the slight- 
est pretext for a divorce in anything 
that you have told me here. The judges 
would ask me whether I took the Law 
Courts for a thoater, and intended to 
make fun of them." 

And seeing how disheartened she was, 
— ^that she looked like a child whose fa- 
vorite toy had been broken, that she was 
so pretty that he would have liked to 
kiss her hands in his devotion, and as 
she seemed to be witty, and very amus- 
ing, and as, moreover, he had no objec- 
tion to such visits being prolonged, when 
papers had to be looked over, while 
sitting close together, — Maitre Garrulier 
appeared to be considering. Taking his 
chin in his hand, he said: 

"However, I will think it over; there 
is sure to be some dark spot that can be 
made out worse. Write to me, and 
come and see me again." 

In the course of her visits, that black 
spot had increased y,o much, and Ma- 
dame de Baudemopt had followed her 
lawyer's advice so punctually, and had 



266 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



played on the various strings so skillfully 
that a few months later, after a law- 
suit, which is still spoken of in the 
course of which the President h^d to 
take off his spectacles, and to use his 
pocket-handkerchief noisily, the divorce 
was pronounced in favor of the Countess 
Marie Anne Nicole Bournet de Baude- 
mont, nee de Tanchart de Peothus. 

The Count, who was nonplussed at 
such an adventure turning out so seri- 
ously, first of all flew into a terrible 
rage, rushed off to the lawyer's office and 
threatened to cut off his knavish ears for 
him. But when his access of fury was 
over, and he thought of it, he shrugged 
his shoulders and said; 

"All the better for her, if it amuses 
her!" 

Then he bought Baron Silberstein's 
yacht, and with some friends, got up a 
cruise to Ceylon and India. 

Marie Anne began by triumphing, 
and felt as happy as a schoolgirl going 
home for the holidays; she committed 
every possible folly, and soon, tired, 
satiated, and disgusted, began to yawn, 
cried, and found out that she had sacri- 
ficed her happiness, like a millionaire 
who has gone mad and has cast his 
banknotes and shares into the river, and 
that she was nothing more than a dis- 
abled waif and stray. Consequently, 
she now married again, as the solitude 
of her home made her morose from 
morning till night ; and then, besides she 
found a woman requires a mansion when 
she goes into society, to race meetings, 
or to the theater. 

And so, while she became a 
marchioness, and pronounced her second 
"Yes," before a very few friends, at the 
ofifice of the mayor of the English urban 



district, malicious people in the Fau- 
bourg were making fun of the whole 
affair, and affirming this and that, 
whether rightly or wrongly, and com- 
paring the present husband to the for- 
mer one, even declaring that he had par- 
tially been the cause of the former di- 
vorce. Meanwhile Monsieur de Baude- 
mont was wandering over the four quar- 
ters of the globe trying to overcome his 
homesickness, and to deaden his longing 
for love, which had taken possession of 
his heart and of his body, like a slow 
poison. 

He traveled through the most out-of- 
lh2-way places, and the most lovely 
countrie?^ and spent months and months 
at sea, and plunged into every kind of 
dissipation and debauchery. But neithei 
ths supple forms nor the luxurious ges- 
tures of the bayaderes, nor the large 
passive eyes of the Creoles, nor flirta- 
tions with English girls with hair the 
color of new cider, nor nights of wak- 
ing dreams, when he saw new constella- 
tions in the sky, nor dangers during 
which a man thinks it is all over with 
him, and mutters a few words of prayer 
in spite of himself, when the waves are 
high, and the sky black, nothing was 
able to make him forget that little Pa- 
risian woman who smelled so sweet that 
she might have been taken for a bouquet 
of rare flowers; who was so coaxing, so 
curious, so funny; who never had the 
same caprice, the same smile, or the 
same look twice^ and who, at bottom, 
was worth more than many others, 
cither saints or sinners. 

He thought of her constantly, during 
long hours of sleeplessness. He carried 
her portrait about with him in the 
breast pocket of his pea-jacket — a 



THE SEQUEL TO A DIVORCE 



26; 



channing portrait in which she was smil- 
ing, and showing her white teeth be- 
tween her hall -open lips. Her gentle 
eyes with their magnetic look had a 
happy, frank expression, and from the 
mere arrangement of her hair, one could 
see that she was fair among the fair. 

He used to kiss that portrait of the 
woman who had been his wife as if he 
wished to efface it, would look at it for 
hours, and then throw himself down on 
the netting and scb like a child as he 
looked at the infinite expanse before 
him, seeming to see their lest happiness, 
the joys of their perished affections, and 
the divine remeniDrance of their love, in 
the monotonous waste of green waters. 
And he tried to accuse himself for all 
that had occurred, and not to be angry 
with her, to think that his grievances 
were imaginary, and to adore her in 
spite of everything and always. 

And so he roamed about the world, 
tossed to and fro, suffering and hoping 
he knew not what. He ventured into 
the greatest dangers, and sought for 
death just as man seeks for his mistress, 
and death passed close to him without 
touching him, perhaps amused at his 
grief and misery. 

For he was as wretched as a stone- 
breaker, as one of those poor devils who 
work and nearly break their backs over 
the hard flints the whole day long, un- 
der the scorching sun or the cold rain; 
and Marie Anne herself was not happy, 
for she was pining for the past and re- 
membered their former love. 

At last, however, he returned to 
France, changed, tanned by exposure, 
sun, and rain, and transformed as if by 
some witch's philter. 

Nobody would have recognized the 



elegant and effeminate clubman in this 
corsair with broad shoulders, a skin the 
color of tan, with very red Lps, who 
rolled a little in his walk; who seemed 
to be stifled in his black dress-coat, but 
who still retained the distinguished man- 
ners and bearing of a nobleman of the 
last century, one of those who, when 
he was ruined, fitted out a privateer, 
and fell upon the English wherever he 
met them, from St. Milo to Calcutta. 
And wherever he showed himself his 
friends exclaimed: 

"Why! Is that you? I should never 
have known you again!" 

He was very nearly starting off again 
immediately; he even telegraphed orders 
to Havre to get the steam-yacht ready 
for sea directly, when he heard that 
Marie Anne had married again. 

He saw her in the distance, at the 
Theatre Frangais one Tuesday, and 
when he noticed how pretty, how fair, 
how desirable she was, — looking so mel- 
ancholy, with all the appearance of an 
unhappy soul that regrets something, — 
his determination grew weaker, and he 
delayed his departure from week to 
week, and waited, without knowing why, 
until, at last, worn out with the strug- 
gle, watching her wherever she went, 
more in love with her than he had ever 
been before, he wrote her long, mad, 
ardent letters in which his passion over- 
flower like a stream of lava. 

He altered his handwriting, as he re- 
membered her restless brain, and her 
many whims. He sent her the flowers 
which he knew she liked best, and told 
her that she was his life, that he was 
dying of waiting for her, of longing for 
her. for her his idol. 

At last^ verv much puzzled and sur- 



268 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



prised, guessing — who knows? — from 
the instinctive beating of her heart, and 
her general emotion, that it must be he 
this time, he whose soul she had tor- 
tured with such cold cruelty, and know- 
ing that she could make amends for the 
past and bring back their former love, 
she replied to him, and granted him the 
meeting that he asked for. She fell 
into his arms, and they both sobbed with 
joy and ecstasy. Thier kisses were 
those which lips give only when they 
have lost each other and found each 
other again at last, when they meet and 
exhaust themselves in each other's looks, 



thirsting for tenderness, love, and en- 
joyment. 



Last week Count de Baudemont car- 
ried off Marie Anne quietly and coolly, 
just like one resumes possession of 
one's house on returning from a jour- 
ney, and drives out the intruders. And 
when Maitre Garrulier was told of this 
unheard of scandal, he rubbed his hands 
— the long, delicate hands of a sensual 
prelate — and exclaimed: 

'That is absolutely logical, and I 
should like to be in their place/' 



The Clown 



The hawkers' cottage stood at the 
end of the Esplanade, on the little prom- 
ontory where the jetty is, and where 
all the winds, all the rain, and all the 
spray met. The hut, both walls and 
roof, was built of old planks, more or 
less covered with tar; its chinks were 
stopped with oakum, and dry wreckage 
was heaped up against it. In the middle 
of the room an iron pot stood on two 
bricks, and served as a stove, when they 
had any coal, but as there was no chim- 
ney, it filled the room, which was venti- 
lated only by a low door, with acrid 
smoke, and there the whole crew lived, 
eighteen men and one woman. Some had 
undergone various terms of imprison- 
ment, and nobody knew what the others 
had done, but though they were all, 
more or less, suffering from some phys- 
ical defect and were virtually old men, 
they were still all strong enough for 



hauling. For "Chamber of Commerce" 
tolerated them there, and allowed them 
that hovel to live in, on condition that 
they should be ready to haul, by day 
and by night. 

For every vessel they hauled, each 
got a penny by day, and twopence by 
night. It was not certain, however, on 
account of the competition of retired 
sailors, fishermen's wives, laborers who 
had nothing to do, people who were 
all stronger than those half-starved 
wretches in the hut. 

And yet they lived there, those 
eighteen men and one woman. Were 
they happy? Certainly not. Hopeless? 
Not that, either; for they occasionally 
got a little beside their scanty pay, and 
then they stole occasionally, fish, lumps 
of coal, things without any value to 
those who lost them, but of great value 
to the poor, beggarly thievesv. 



IHE CLOWN 



269 



The eighteen supported the woman, 
and there was no jealousy on her ac- 
count! She had no special favorite 
among them. 

She was a fat woman of about Torty, 
chubby-faced and puffy, of whom daddy 
La Bretagne, who was one of the 
eighteen, used to say: "She does us 
honor." 

If she had had a favorite among them, 
daddy La Bretagne would certainly have 
had the greatest right to that privilege, 
for although he was one of the most 
crippled among them, being partially 
paralyzed in his legs, he showed himself 
as skillful and strong-armed as any of 
them, and in spite of his infirmities, he 
always managed to secure a good place 
in the row of haulers. None of them 
knew as well as he how to inspire visi- 
tors with pity during the season, and 
to make them put their hands into their 
pockets. He was a past master at cadg- 
ing, so that among those empty stom- 
achs and penniless rascals he had wind- 
falls of victuals and coppers more fre- 
quently than fell rightly to his share. 
But he did not make use of them in or- 
der to monopolize their common mis- 
tress. 

"I am just," he used to say. "Let 
each of us have his spoonful in turn, and 
no more, when we are all eating out of 
the same dish." 
r With the coal he picked up, he used 
to make a good fire for the whole band 
in the iron pot, over which he cooked 
whatever he brought home with him, 
without anyone complaining about it, 
for he used to say: 

"It gives you a good fire at which to 
warm yourselves, for nothing, and the 
smell of my stew into the bargain." 



As for his money, he spent it in 
drink with the trollop, and afterward, 
what was left of it, with the others. 

"You see," he used to say, "I am just, 
and more than just. I give her up to 
you, because it is your right." 

The consequence was, that they all 
liked daddy La Bretagne, so that he 
gloried in it, and said proudly: 

"What a pity that we are living under 
the Republic! These fellows would 
think nothing of making me king." 

And one day, when he said this, his 
trollop replied: "The king is here, old 
fellow!" And at the same time she 
presented a new comrade to them, who 
was no less ragged or wretched looking 
than the eighteen, but quite young by 
the side of him. He was a tall, thin fel- 
low of about forty, and without a gray 
streak in his long hair. He was dressed 
only in a pair of trousers and a shirt, 
which he wore outside them, like a 
blouse, and the trollop said: 

"Here, daddy La Bretagne, you have 
two knitted vests on, so just give him 
one." 

"Why should I?" the hauler asked. 

"Because I choose you to," the 
woman replied. "I have been living 
with you set of old men for a long time, 
so now I want to have a young one; 
there he is, so you must give him a vest, 
and keep him here, or I shall throw you 
up. You may take it or leave it, as 
you like; do you understand me?" 

The eighteen looked at each other 
open-mouthed, and good daddy La 
Bretagne scratched his head, and then 
said: 

"What she asks is quite right, and we 
must give way," he replied. 

Then they explained themselves, and 



270 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



came to aa understanding. The poor 
devil did not come like a conqueror, for 
he was a wretched clown who had jusi 
been released from prison, where he had 
undergone three years' hard labor for an 
attempted outrage on a girl, but with 
one exception, the best fellow in the 
world, so people declared. 

"And something nice for me," the 
trollop said, *'for I can assure you that 
I mean him to reward me for anything 
I may do for him." 

From that time, the household of 
eighteen persons was increased to nine- 
teen, and at first all went well. The 
dow^n was very humble, and tried not 
to be burdensome to them. Fed, 
clothed, and supplied with tobacco, he 
tried not to be too exacting in the other 
matter, and if needful, he would have 
hauled like the others, but the woman 
would not allow it. 

"You shall not fatigue yourself, my 
little man," she said. 'You must re- 
serve yourself entirely for home." 

And he did as she wished. 

And soon the eighteen, who had never 
been jealous of each other, grsw jealous 
of the favored lover. Some tried to 
pick a quarrel with him. He resisted. 
The best fellow in the world, no doubt, 
but he was not going to be taken for a 
mussel shut up in its shell, for all that. 
Let them call him as lazy as a priest it 
they liked; he did not mind that, but 
when they put hairs into his coffee, 
armfuls of rushes among his wreckage, 
and filth into his soup, they had better 
look out! 

"None of that, all the lot of you, or 
you will see what I can do," he used to 
fay. 

They repeated their practical jokes, 



however, and he thrashed them. He did 
not try to find out who the culprits 
were, but attacked the first one he met, 
so much the worse for him. With a 
kick from his wooden clog (it was his 
specialty) he smashed their noses into a 
pulp, and having thus acquired the 
knowledge of his strength, and urged on 
by his trollop, he soon became a tyrant. 
The eighteen felt that they were slaves, 
r.nd their former paradise, where con- 
cord and perfect equality had reigned, 
became a hell, and that state of things 
could not last. 

"Ah!" daddy La Bretagne growled, 
"if only I were twenty years younger, I 
would nearly kill him! I have my 
Breton's hot head still, but my con- 
founded legs are no good any longer." 

And he boldly challenged the clown to 
a duel, in which the latter was to hav8 
his hgs tied, and then both of them 
were to sit on the ground and hack at 
each other with knives. 

"Such a duel,'* he said, "would be per- 
fectly fair!" he replied, kicking him in 
the side with one of his clogs, and the 
woman burst out laughing, and said: 

"At any rate you cannot compete with 
h*m on equal terms as regards myself, 
so do not worry yourself about it." 

Daddy La Bretagne was lying in his 
corner and spitting blood, and none ot 
the rest spoke. What could the others 
do, when he, the blusterer of chem all, 
had been served so? The jade had been 
right when she had brought in the in- 
truder, and said: 

"The king is here, old fellow." 

Only, she ought to have remembered 
that, after all, she alone keot his sub- 
jects in check, and as daddy La 
Bretagne said, by a richt object. With 



THE MAD WOMAN 



271 



her to console them, they would no 
doubt have borne anything, but she was 
foolish enough to cut down their food, 
and not to fill their common dish as full 
as it used to be. She wanted to keep 
everything for her lover, and that raised 
the exasperation of the eighteen to its 
height. So one night when she and the 
clown were asleep, among all these fast- 
ing men, the eighteen threw themselves 
on them. They wrapped the despot^s 
arms and legs up in tarpaulin, and in the 



presence of the woman who was firmly 
bound, they flogged him till he was black 
and blue. 

*'Yes," old Bretagne said to me him- 
self. "Yes, Monsieur, that was our re- 
venge. The king was guillotined in 
1793, and so we guillotined our king 
also." 

And he concluded with a sneer, say- 
ing: "But we wished to be just, and as 
it was not his head that had made him 
our king, by Jove, we settled him." 



The Mad Woman 



"I CAN tell you a terrible story about 
the Franco-Prussian ^ar," Monsieur 
d'Endolin said to some friends assem- 
bled in the smoking-room of Baron de 
Ravot's chateau. "You know my house 
in the Faubourg de Cormeil. I was 
living there when the Prussians came, 
and I had for a neighbor a kind of mad 
woman, who had lost her senses in con- 
sequence of a series of misfortunes. At 
the age of seven and twenty she had 
lost her father, her husband, and her 
newly born child, ail in the space of a 
month. 

"When death has cnce entered into a 
house, it almost invariably returns im- 
mediately, as if it knew the way, and the 
young woman, overwhelmed with grief, 
took to her bed and was delirious for 
six weeks. Then a species of calm lassi- 
tude succeeded that violent crisis, and 
she remained motionless, eating next to 
nothing, and only moving her eyes. 
Every time they tried to make her get 
up, she screamed as if they were about 



to kill her, and so they ended by leav- 
ing her continually in bed, and only tak- 
ing her out to wash her, to change her 
linen, and to turn her mattress. 

"An old serv^ant remained with her, 
to give her something to drink, or a 
little cold meat, from time to time. 
What passed in that despairing mind? 
No one ever knew, for she did not speak 
at all now. Was she thinking of the 
dead? Was she dreaming sadly, with- 
out any precise recollection of anything 
that had happened? Or was her mem- 
ory as stagnant as water without any 
current? But however this may have 
been, for fifteen years she remained thus 
inert and secluded. 

"The war broke out, and in the begin- 
ning of December the Germans came to 
Cormeil. I can remember it as if it 
were but yesterday. It was freezing 
hard enough to split the stones, and I 
myself was lying back in an armchair, 
being unable to move on account of the 
gout, when I heard their heavy and reg- 



272 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



ular tread, and could see them pass from 
my window. 

"They defiled past interminably, with 
that peculiar motion of a puppet on 
wires, which belongs to them. Then the 
officers billeted their men on the inhab- 
itants, and I had seventeen of them. 
My neighbor, the crazy woman, had a 
dozen, one of whom was the Comman- 
dant, a regular violent, surly swash- 
buckler. 

"During the first few days, everything 
went on as usual. The officers next door 
had been told that the lady was ill, and 
they did not trouble themselves about 
that in the least, but soon that woman 
whom they never saw irritated them. 
They asked what her illness was, and 
were told that she had been in bed for 
fifteen years, in consequence of terrible 
grief. No doubt they did not believe 
it, and thought that the poor mad crea- 
ture would not leave her bed out of 
pride, so that she might not come near 
the Prussians, or speak to them or even 
see them. 

"The Commandant insisted upon her 
receiving him. He was shown into the 
room and said to her roughly: *I must 
beg you to get up, Madame, and come 
downstairs so that we may all see you.* 
But she merely turned her vague eyes 
on him, without replying, and so lie 
continued: *I do not intend to tolerate 
any insolence, and if you do not get up 
of your own accord, I can easily find 
means to make you walk without any 
assistance.' 

"But she did not give any signs of 
having heard him, and remained quite 
motionless. Then he got furious, taking 
that calm silence for a mark of supreme 
contempt; so he added: *If you do not 



come downstairs to-morrow — * And 

then he left the room. 

"The next day the terrified old serv- 
ant wished to dress her, but the mad 
woman began to scream violently, and 
resisted with all her might. The officer 
ran upstairs quickly, and the servant 
threw herself at his feet and cried: 
'She will not come down. Monsieur, she 
will not. Forgive her, for she is so un- 
happy." 

"The soldier was embarrassed, as in 
spite of his anger, he did not venture to 
order his soldiers to drag her out. But 
suddenly he began to laugh, and gave 
some orders in German, and soon a 
party of soldiers was seen coming out 
supporting a mattress as if they were 
carrying a wounded man. On that bed, 
which had been unmade, the mad wom- 
an, who was still silent, was lying quite 
quietly, for she was quite indifferent to 
anything that went on, as long as they 
let her lie. Behind her, a soldier was 
carrying a parcel of feminine attire, and 
the officer said, rubbing his hands: 'We 
will just see whether you cannot dress 
yourself alone, and take a little walk.* 

"And then the procession went off in 
the direction of the forest of Imauville; 
in two hours the soldiers came back 
alone, and nothing more was seen of 
the mad woman. What had they done 
with her? Where had they taken iiei 
to? No one knew. 

"The snow was falling day and night, 
and enveloped the plain and the wood- 
in a shroud of frozen foam, and the 
wolves came and howled at our very 
doors. 

"The thought of that poor lest woman 



MADEMOISELLE 



273 



haunted me, and I made several applica- 
tions to the Prussian authorities in or- 
der to obtain some information, and was 
nearly shot for doing so. When spring 
returned, the army of occupation with- 
drew, but my neighbor's house remained 
closed, and the grass grew thick in the 
garden walks. The old servant had died 
during the winter, and nobody troubled 
any longer about the occurrence ; I alone 
thought about it constantly. What had 
they done with the woman? Had she 
escaped through the forest? Had some- 
body found her, and taken her to a 
hospital, without being able to obtain 
any information from her? Nothing 
happened to relieve my doubts; but by 
degrees, time assuaged my fears. 

"Well, in the following autumn the 
woodcock were very plentiful, and as 
my gout had left me for a time, I 
dragged my self as far as the forest. 
I had already killed four or five of the 
long-billed birds, when I knocked over 
one which fell into a ditch full of 



branches, and I was obliged to get into 
it, in order to pick it up, and I found 
that it had fallen close to a dead, hu- 
man body. Immediately the recollec- 
tion of the mad woman struck me like a 
blow in the chest. Many other people 
had perhaps died in the wood during 
that disastrous year, but though I do 
not know why, I was sure, sure, I tell 
you, that I should see the head of that 
wretched maniac. 

"And suddenly I understood, I guessed 
everything. They had abandoned her 
on that mattress in the cold, deserted 
wood; and, faithful to her fixed idea, 
she iiad allowed herself to perish under 
that thick and light counterpane of 
snow, without moving either arms or 
legs. 

"Then the wolves had devoured hei, 
and the birds had built their nests witb 
the wool from her torn bed, and I took 
charge of her bones. I only pray that 
our sons may never see any wars again." 



Mademoiselle 



, He had been registered under the 
names of Jean Marie Mathieu Valot, 
but he was never called anything but 
"Mademoiselle." He was the idiot of 
the district, but not one of these 
wretched, ragged idiots who live on pub- 
lic charity. He lived comfortably on a 
small income which his mother had 
left him, and which his guardian paid 
him regularly, so he was rather envied 
than pitied. And then, he was not one 
of those idiots with wild looks and the 



manners of an animal, for he was by no 
means an unpleasing object, with his 
half-open lips and smiling eyes, and es- 
pecially in his constant makeup in fe- 
male dress. For he dressed like a girl, 
and showed by th:it how httle he ob- 
jected to being called Mademoiselle. 

And why should he not like the nick- 
name which his mother had given him 
affectionately, when he was a mere ch'ld, 
so delicate and weak, and with a fair 
complexion— a poor little diminutive lad 



274 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



not as tall as many girls of the same 
age? It was in pure love that, in his 
earlier years, his mother whispered that 
tender Mademoiselle to him, while his 
old grandmother used to say jokingly: 

"The fact is, that as for the male ele- 
ment in him it is really not worth men- 
tioning in a Christian — no offense to 
God in saying so." And his grandfather, 
who was equally fond of a joke, used to 
add: "I only hope it will not disappear 
as he grows up." 

And they treated him as if he had 
really been a girl and coddled him, the 
more sc as they were very prosperous 
and did not require to toil to -»,cp 
things together. 

When his mother and grandparents 
were dead. Mademoiselle was almost as 
happy with his paternal uncle, an un- 
married man, who had carefully at- 
tended the idiot, and who had grown 
more and more attached to him by dint 
of looking after him; and the worthy 
man continued to call Jean Marie 
Mathieu Valot, Mademoiselle- 
He was called so in all the country 
round as well, not with the slightest in- 
tention of hurting his feelings, but, on 
the contrary, because all thought they 
would please the poor gentle creature 
who harmed nobody in doing so. 

The very street boys meant no harm 
by it, accustomed as they were to call 
the tall idiot in a frock and cap by 
the nickname; but it would have struck 
them as very extraordinary, and would 
have led them to rude fun, if they had 
seen him dressed I'ke a boy. 

Mademoiselle, however, took care of 
chat, for his dress wis as dear to him 
as his nickname. He delighted in wear- 
Tig it, and, in fact, cared for nothing 



else, and what gave it a particular zest 
was that he knew that he was not a girl, 
and that he was living in disguise. And 
this was evident by the exaggerated 
feminine bearing and walk he put on, 
as if to show that it was not natural 
to him. His enormous, carefully filled 
cap was adorned with large variegated 
ribbons. His petticoat, with numerous 
flounces, was distended behind by many 
hoops. He walked with short steps, and 
with exaggerated swaying of the hips, 
while his folded arms and crossed hands 
were distorted into pretensions of 
comical coquetry. 

On such occasions, if anybody wished 
to make friends with him., it was neces- 
sary to say: 

*'Ah! Mademoiselle, what a nice girl 
you make." 

That put him into a good humor, and 
he used to reply, much pleased: 

"Don't I? But people can see I only 
do it for a joke." 

But, nevertheless, when they were 
dancing at village festivals in the neigh* 
borhood, he would always be invited to 
dance as Mademoiselle, and would 
never ask any of the girls to dance 
with him; and one evening when I 
somebody asked him the reason for this, 
he opened his eyes wide, laughed as if 
the man had said something very stupid, 
and replied: 

"I cannot ask the girls, because I am 
not dressed like a lad. Just look at 
my dress, you fool!" 

As his interrogator was a judicious 
man, he said to him: 

"Then dress like one, Mademoiselle." 

He thought for a moment, and then 
said with a cunning look: 

"But if I dress like a lad, I shall no 



MADEMOISELLE 



575 



longer be a girl; and then, I am a girl"; 
and he shrugged his shoulders as he 
said it. 

But the remark seemed to make him 
thinL 

For some time afterward, when he met 
the same person, he would ask him 
abruptly: 

"If I dress like a lad, will you still 
call me Mademoiselle?" 

"Of course, I shall," the other replied. 
**You will always be called so." 

The idiot appeared delighted, for there 
was no doubt that he thought more of 
his nictname than he did of his dress, 
and the next day he made his appear- 
ance in the village square, without his 
petticoats and dressed as a man. He 
had taken a pair of trousers, a coat, and 
a hat from his guardian's clothespress. 
This created quite a revolution in the 
neighborhood, for the people who had 
been in the habit of smiling at him 
kindly when he was dressed as a woman, 
looked at him in astonishment and al- 
most in fear, while the indulgent could 
not help laughing, and visibly making 
fun of him. 

The involuntary hostility of some, and 
the too evident ridicule of others, the 
disagreeable surprise of all, were too 
palpable for him not to see it, and to 
be hurt by it, and it was still worse 
when a street urchin said to him in a 
jeering voice, as he danced round him : 

"Oh! oh! Mademoiselle, you wear 
trousers! Oh! oh! Mademoiselle!" 

And it grew worse and worse, when 
a whole band of these vagabonds were 
on his heels, hooting and yelling after 
him, as if he had been somebody in a 
masquerading dress during the Carnival. 

It was quite certain that the unfor- 



tunate creature looked more in disguise 
now than he had formerly. By dint oi 
living hke a girl, and by even exaggerat- 
ing the feminine walk and manners, he 
had totally lost all masculine looks and 
ways. His smooth face, his long flax- 
like hair, required a cap with ribbons, 
and became a caricature under the high 
chimney-pot hat of the old doctor, his 
grandfather. 

Mademoiselle's shoulders, and espe- 
cially her swelling stern, danced about 
wildly in this old-fashioned coat and 
wide trousers. And nothing was as 
funny as the contrast between his quiet 
dress and slow trotting pace, the win- 
ning way he used his head, and the con- 
ceited movements of his hands, with 
which he fanned himself like a girl. 

Soon the older lads and the girls, the 
old women, men of ripe age and even 
the Judicial Councilor, joined the little 
brats, and hooted Mademoiselle, while 
the astonished idiot ran away, and 
rushed into the house with terror. There 
he took his poor head between both 
hands, and tried to comprehend the mat- 
ter. Why were they angry with him? 
For it was quite evident that they were 
angry with him. What wrong had he 
done, and whom had he injured, by 
dressing as a boy? Was he not a boy, 
after all? For the first time in his 
life, he felt a horror for his nickname, 
for had he not been insulted through 
it? But immediately he was seized with 
a horrible doubt. 

"Suppose that, after all, I am a girl?" 

He would have liked to ask his guar- 
dian about it but he did not like to, for 
he somehow felt, although only ob- 
scurely, that he, worthy man, might not 
tell him the truth, out of kindness. 



I 



276 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSAN'i 



And, besides, he preferred to find out 
for himself, without asking anyone. 

All his idiot's cunning, which had 
been lying latent up till then, because 
he never had any occasion to make use 
of it, now came out and urged him to 
a solitary and dark action. 

The next day he dressed himself as 
a girl again, and made his appearance 
as if he had perfectly forgotten his 
escapade of the day before, but the peo- 
ple, especially the street boys, had not 
forgotten it. They looked at him side- 
ways, and, even the best of them, could 
not help smiling, while the little black- 
guards ran after him and said: 

"Oh! oh! Modemoiselle, you had on 
a pair of breeches!" 

But he pretended not to hear, or even 
to guess to what they were alluding. 
He seemed as happy and glad to look 
about him as he usually did, with half- 
open lips and smiling eyes. As usual, 
he wore an enormous cap with varie- 
gated ribbons, and the same large petti- 
coats; he walked with short, mincing 
steps, swaying and wriggling his hips 
and gesticulating like a coquette, and 
licked his lips when they called him 
Mademoiselle, while really he would 
have liked to have jumped at the throat 
of those who called him so. 

Days and months passed, and by de- 
grees those about him forgot all about 
his strange escapade. But he had never 
left off thinking about it, or trying to 
iind out — for which he was ever on the 
..!ert — ^how he could ascertain his quali- 
ucs as a boy, and how to assert them 
victoriously. Really innocent, he had 
reached the age of twenty without know- 
ing anything or without ever having any 



natural impulse, but being tenacious of 
purpose, curious and dissembling, he 
asked no questions, but observed all that 
was said and done. 

Often at their village dances, he had 
heard young fellows boasting about girls 
whom they had seduced, and girls prais- 
ing such and such a young fellow, and 
often, also, after a dance, he saw the 
couples go away together, with their 
arms round each other's waists. They 
had no suspicions of him, and he lis- 
tened and watched, until, at last, he dis- 
covered what was going on. 

And then, one night, when dancing 
was over, and the couples were going 
away with their arms round each other's 
waists, a terrible screaming was heard at 
the corner of the woods through which 
those going to the next village had to 
pass. It was Josephine, pretty Jose- 
phine, and when her screams v/ere 
heard, they ran to her assistance, and 
arrived only just in time to rescue her, 
half strangled, from Mademoiselle's 
clutches. 

The idiot had watched her and had 
thrown n^mself upon her in order to 
treat her as the other young fellows did 
the girls, but she resisted him so stoutly 
that he took her by the throat and 
squeezed it with all his might until she 
could not breathe, and was nearly dead. 

In rescuing Josephine from him, they 
had thrown him on the ground, but he 
jumped up again immediately, foaming 
at the mouth and slobbering, and ex- 
claimed: 

"I am not a girl any longer, I am a 
young man, I am a young man, I telj 
vou." 



VOLUME m 



A Bad Error 



I 



I MADE Mrs. Jadelle's acquaintance in 
Paris, this winter. She pleased me in- 
finitely at once. You know her as well 
as I — ^no — ^pardon me — nearly as well as 
I. You know that she is poetic and fan- 
tastic at one and the same time. You 
know she is free in her manner and of 
impressionable heart, impulsive, cour- 
ageous, venturesome, audacious — above 
all, prejudiced, and yet, in spite of that, 
sentimental, delicate, easily hurt, tender, 
and modest. 

She was a widow, and I adore widows, 
from sheer laziness. I was on the look- 
out for a wife, and I paid her my court. 
I knew her, and more than that, she 
pleased me. The moment came when I 
believed it would do to risk my proposal. 
I was in love with her and in danger of 
becoming too much so. When one mar- 
ries, he should not love his wife too 
much, or he is likely to make himself 
foolish; his vision is distorted, and he 
becomes silly and brutal at the same 
time. A man must assert himself. If 
he loses his head at first, he risks being 
a nobody a year later. 

So one day I presented myself at her 
bouse with light gloves on, and I said 
to her; "Madame, I have the honor of 
loving you, and I have come to ask you 
if there is any hope of my pleasing you 
enough to warrant your placing your 
happiness in my care and taking my 
name." 

She answered quietly: ''What a ques- 
tion, sir! I am absolutely ignorant of 
whether you will please me sooner or 
later, or whether you will not ; but I ask 
nothing better than to make a trial of it. 
As a man, I do not find you bad. It 
remains to be seen how you are at 



heart and in character and habits. For 
the most part marriages are tempestuous 
or criminal because people are not care- 
ful enough in yokmg themselves to- 
gether. Sometimes a mere nothing to 
sufficient, a mania or tenacious opinion 
upon some moral or religious point, no 
matter what, a gesture which displeases, 
or some little fault or disagreeable qual- 
ity, to turn an affianced couple, however 
tender and affectionate, into a pair o! 
irreconcilable enemies, incensed with, 
but chained to, each other until death. 
I will not marry sir, without knowing 
the depths and corners and recesses of 
the soul of the man with whom I am 
to share my existence. I wish to study 
him at leisure, at least for some months. 

"Here is what I propose. You will 
come and pass the summer in my house 
at De Lauville, my country place, and 
we shall see then if we are fitted to live 
side by side — ^I see you laugh! You 
have a bad thought. Oh! sir, if I were 
not sure of myself, I would never make 
this proposition. I have for love, what 
you call love, you men, such a scorn 
such a disgust that a fall is impossible 
for me. Well, do you accept?" 

I kissed her hand. 

"When shall we start, Madame?" 

"The tenth of May." 

"It is agreed." 

A month later I was installed at he 
house. She was truly a singular wo- 
man. From morning until evening she 
was studying me. As she was fond of 
horses, we passed each day in riding 
through the woods, talking about every- 
thing, but she was always trying to probe 
my innermost thoughts, to which end 
she observed my slightest movement 



777 



::78 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



As for me, I became foolishly in love, 
and (lid not trouble myself about the 
fitness of our characters. But I soon 
perceived that even my sleep was put 
under inspection. Some one slept in a 
little room adjoining mine, entering very 
late and with infinite precaution. This 
espionage for every instant finally made 
me impatient. I wished to hasten the 
conclusion, and one evening thought 
of a way of bringing it about. She 
had received me in such a way 
that I had abstained from any 
new essay, but a violent desire in- 
vaded me to make her pay, in some 
fashion, for this restricted regime to 
which I had submitted, and I thought 
I knew a way. 

You know Cesarine, her chambermaid, 
a pretty girl from Granville, where all 
the women are pretty, and as blond as 
her mistress was brunette? Well, one 
afternoon I drew the little soubrette into 
my room and, putting a hundred francs 
in her hand, I said to her: 

**My dear child, I do not wish you 
to do anything villainous, but I desire 
the same privilege toward your mistress 
that she takes toward me." 

The little maid laughed, with a sly 
look, as I continued: 

"I am watched day and night, I know. 
I am watched as I eat, drink, dress my- 
self, shave, and put on my socks, and 
I know it." 

The little girl stammered: "Yes, sir 
— " then she was silent. I continued: 

'You sleep in the room next to mine 
to see if I snore, or if I dream aloud, 
you cannot deny it ! " 

"Yes, sir — " Then she was silent 
again. 

I became excited: "Oh! welK my 



girl," said I, "you understand that it is 
net fair for everything to be known 
about me while I know nothing of the 
person who is to be my wife. I love her 
with all my soul. She has the face, the 
heart, and mind that I have dreamed 
of, and I am the happiest of men on 
this account; nevertheless there are 
some things I would like to know bet- 
ter—" 

Cesarine decided to put my bank-note 
in her pocket. I understood that the 
bargain was concluded. 

"Listen, my girl," said I. "We men— - 
we care much for certain — certain dC' 
tails — ^physical details, which do not hin- 
der a woman from being charming, but 
which can change her price in our eyes. 
I do not ask you to say anything bad 
of your mistress, nor even to disclose to 
me her defects, if she has any. Only 
answer me frankly four or five questions, 
which I am going to put to you. You 
know Mrs. Jadelle as well as you do 
yourself, since you dress and undress 
her every day. Now then, tell me this: 
Is she as plump as she has the appear- 
ance of being?" 

The little maid did not answer. 

I continued: "You cannot, my child, 
be ignorant of the fact that women put 
cotton, padding, you know, where — 
where — ^where they nourish their infants 
and also where they sit. Tell me, does 
she use padding?" 

Cesarine lowered her eyes. Finally 
she said timidly: "Ask whatever you 
want to, sir, I will answer all at one 
time." 

"Well, my girl, there are some women 
whose knees meet, so much so that they 
touch with each step that they take; and 
there are others who have them far 



A BAD ERROR 



279 



apart, which maiics their limbs like the 
arches ot a bridge, so that one might 
view the landscape between them. This 
is the prettier of the two fashions. Tell 
me, how are your mistress's limbs?" 

Still the maid said nothing. 

I continued: "There are some who 
have necks so beautiful that they form 
a great fold underneath. And there are 
some that have large arms with a thin 
figure. There are some that arc very 
large before and nothing at all behind, 
and there are some large behind and 
nothing at all in front. All this is very 
pretty, very pretty, but I wish to know 
just how your mistress is made. Tell me 
frankly, and I will give you much more 
money — " 

Cesarine looked at me out of the cor- 
ner of her eye and, laughing with all her 
heart, answered: "Sir, aside from being 
dark, mistress is made exactly like me." 

Then she fled. 

I had been made sport of. This was 
the time I found myself ridiculous, and 
I resolved to avenge myself, at least, 
upon this impertinent maid. 

An hour later I entered the little room 
with precaution where she listened to 
my sleeping, and unscrewed the bolts. 

Toward midnight she arrived at her 
post of observation. I followed her im- 
mediately. On perceiving me, she was 
going to cry out, but I put my hand over 
her mouth, and, without too great effort, 
I convinced myself that, if she had not 
lied, Mrs. Jadelle was very well made. 

I even put much zest into this authen- 
tication which, though pushed a little 
far, did not seem to displease Cesarine. 
She was, in very fact, a ravishing speci- 
men of the Norman peasant race, strong 
and f\ne at the same time. She was 



wanting perhaps in certain delicate 
attentions that Henry VI. would have 
scorned, but I revealed them to her 
quickly, and as I adore perfumes, I gave 
her a box the next evening, with a flask 
of lavender-water. 

We were soon more closely bound to 
each other than I could have believed, 
almost friends. She became an exqui- 
site mistress, naturally spirituelle and 
broken to pleasure. She had been a 
courtesan of great merit in Paris. 

The delights which she brought me 
enabled me to await Mrs. Jadelle's con- 
clusion of proof without impatience. I 
became an incomparable character, sup- 
ple, docile, and complacent. My fianceS 
found me delightful beyond a doubt, and 
I judged, from certain signs, that 1 was 
soon to be accepted. I was certainly the 
happiest man in the world, awaiting tran- 
quilly the legal kiss of the woman I 
loved, in the arms of a young and beau- 
tiful girl for whom I had much fond- 
ness. 

It is here, Madame, that I must ask 
your forbearance a little; I have arrived 
at a delicate point. 

One evening, as we were returning 
from a horseback ride, Mrs. Jadelle com- 
plained sharply that her grooms had not 
taken certain measures prescribed by 
her for the horse she rode. She re- 
peated many times: "Let them take 
care, I have a way of surprising them." 

I passed a calm night in my bed. I 
awoke early, full of ardor and energy. 
Then I dressed msyelf. 

I was in the habit of going up on the 
tower of the house each morning to 
smoke a cigarette. This was reached by 
a limestone staircase, lightec* by a large 
'window at the top of the first story. 



280 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



I advanced without noise, my feet 
encased in morocco slippers with wadded 
soles, and was climbing the £rst steps 
wnen I perceived Cesarine bending out 
the window, looking down below. 

Not that I saw Cesarine entirely, but 
only a part of Cesarine, and that the 
lower part. I loved this part )ust as 
much; of Mrs. Jadelle, I would have 
preferred, perhaps the upper. She was 
thus so charming, so round, this part 
which offered itself to me, and only 
slightly clothed in a white skirt. 

I approached so softly that the girl 
heard nothing. I put myself on my 
knees; with infinite precaution 1" took 
hold of the two sides of the skirt and, 
quickly, 1 raised it. I recognized there 
the full, fresh, plump, sweet, ischial 
tuberosities of my mistress, and threw 
there, your pardon, Madame, — I threw 
there a tender kiss, a kiss of a lover 
who dares anything, 

I was surprised. It was verbena! But 



I had no time for reflection. I received 
a sudden blow, or rather a push in the 
face which seemed to break my nose. I 
uttered a cry that made my hair rise. 
The person had turned around — ^it waa 
Mrs. Jadelle! 

She was fighting the air with her 
hands, like a woman who had lost con- 
sciousness. She gasped for some sec- 
onds, made a gesture of using a horse- 
whip, and then fled. 

Ten minutes later, Cesarine, stupe- 
fied, brought me in a letter. I read : 

"Mrs. Jadelle hopes that M. de Brives 
will immediately rid her of his presence." 

I departed. Well, I am not yet con- 
soled. I have attempted every means 
and all explanations to obtain a pardon 
for my misunderstanding, but all pro- 
ceedings have been nipped in the bud. 

Since that moment, you see. 1 have in 
my — in my heart a scent of verbena 
which gives me an immoderate desire to 
smell the perfume again. 



The Port 



I. 



Having sailed from Havre on the 
ihird of May, 1882, for a voyage in tb*; 
China seas, the square-rigged three- 
master, "Notre Dame des Vents," made 
her way back into the port of Mar- 
seilles on the eighth of August, 1886, 
after an absence of four years. When 
she had discharged her first cargo in 
the Chinese port for which she was 
bound, she had immediately found a 
^lew freight for Buenos Ayres, and from 
that place had conveyed goods to 
Brazil 



Other passages, then damage repairs; 
calms ranging over several months, gales 
which knocked her out of her course — 
all the accidents, adventures, and mis- 
adventures of the sea, in short — had 
kept far from her country this Norman 
three-master, which had come back to 
Marseilles with her hold full of tin 
boxes containing American preserves. 

At her departure she had on board, 
besides the captain and the mate, four- 
teen sailors, eight Normans, and six 
Britons. On her return there were left 
onlv five Britons and four Normans, 



THE PORT 



281 



ihe other Briton had died while on the 
way; the four Normans, having dis- 
appeared under various circumstances, 
had been replaced by two Americans, a 
negro, and a Norwegian carried off, one 
evening, from a tavern in Singapore. 

The big vessel, with reefed sails and 
yards crossed over her masts, drawn 
by a tug from Marseilles, rocking over 
a sweep of rolling waes which sub- 
sided gently into calm water, passed in 
front of the Chateau d'lf, and then un- 
der all the gray rockf jf the roadstead, 
which the setting sun covered with a 
golden vapor. She entered the ancient 
port, in which are packed together, side 
by side, ships from every part of the 
world, pellmell, large and small, of 
every shape and every variety of rig- 
ging, soaking like a bouillabaisse of boats 
in this basin toe limited in extent, full 
of putrid water where shells touch each 
other, rub against each other, and seem 
to be pickled in the juice of the vessels. 

"Notre Dame des Vents" took up her 
station between an Italian brig and an 
English schooner, which made way to 
let this comrade slip in between them; 
then, when all the formalities of the 
customhouse and of the porf had been 
complied with, the captain authorized 
two-thirds of his crew to spend the night 
on shore. 

It was already dark. Marseilles was 
lighted up. In the heat of this sum- 
mer's evening, a flavor of cooking with 
garlic floated over the noisy city, filled 
with the clamor of voices, of rolling 
vehicles, of the crackling of whips, and 
of southern mirth. 

As soon as they felt themselves on 
shore, th" ten men. whom the sea had 
Heen tossing about for some months past. 



proceeded along quite slowly vrith the 
hesitating steps of persons who are out 
of their element, unaccustomed to 
cities, two by two, in procession. 

They swayed from one side to 
another as they walked, looked about 
them, smelling out the lanes opening 
out on the harbor, rendered feverish by 
the amorous appetite which had been 
growing to maturity in their bodies dur- 
ing their last sixty-six days at sea. The 
Normans stiode on in front, led by 
Celestin Duclos, a tall young fellow, 
sturdy and waggish, who served as a 
captain for the others every time they 
set forth on land. He divined the places 
worth visiting, found out byways after 
a fashion of his own, and did not take 
much part in the squabbles so frequen' 
among sailors in seaport towns. But» 
once he was caught in one, he was 
afraid of nobody. 

After some hesitation as to which of 
the obscure streets that lead down to 
the waterside, and from which arise 
heavy smells, a sort of exhalation from 
closets, they ought to enter, Celestin gave 
the preference to a kind of winding pas- 
sage, where gleamed over the doors pro- 
jecting lanterns bearing enormous num- 
bers on their rough colored glass. Un- 
der the narrow arches at the entrance to 
the houses, women wearing aprons, like 
servants, seated on straw chairs, rose 
up on seeing them coming near, taking 
three steps toward the gutter which sepa- 
rated the street into halves, and so cut- 
ting off the path from this file of men, 
who sauntered along at their leisure, 
humming and sneering, already Retting 
excited by the vicinity of those dens of 
prostitutes. 

Sometimes, at the end of a hall, be« 



282 



WORKS OF GUY DE MxWPASSANT 



hind a second open door, which pre- 
sented itself unexpectedly, covered over 
with dark leather, would appear a big 
wench, undressed, whose heavy thighs 
and fat calves abruptly outlined them- 
selves under her coarse white cotton 
wrapper. Her short petticoat had the 
appearance of a puffed-out girdle; and 
the soft flesh of her breast, her shoul- 
ders, and her arms made a rosy stain on 
a black velvet corsage with edgings of 
gold lace. She kept calling out from her 
distant corner, "Will you come here, my 
pretty boys?" and sometimes she would 
go out herself to catch hold of one of 
them, and to drag him toward her door 
with all her strength, fastening on him 
like a spider drawing forward an insect 
bigger than itself. The man, excited by 
the struggle, would offer a mild re- 
sistance, and the rest would stop to look 
on, undecided between the longing to go 
in at once and that of lengthening this 
appetizing promenade. Then when the 
woman, after desperate efforts, had 
brought the sailor to the threshold of 
her abode, in which the entire band 
would be swallowed up after him, Celes- 
tin Duclos, who was a judge of houses 
of this sort, suddenly exclaimed: Don't 
go in there, Marchand! That's not the 
place." 

The man thereupon, obeying this 
direction, freed himself with a brutal 
shake; and the comrades formed them- 
selves into a band once more, pursued 
by the filthy insults of the exasperated 
wench, while other women, all along the 
alley in front of them, came out past 
their doors, attracted by the noise, and 
in hoarse voices threw out to them in- 
vitations coupled with promises. They 
went on, then, more and more stimu- 



lated by the combined effects of the 
coaxings and the seductions held out as 
baits to them by the choir of portresses 
of love all over the upper part of the 
street, and the ignoble maledictions 
hurled at them by the choir at the lower 
end — the despised choir of disappointed 
wenches. From time to time, they met 
another band — soldiers marching along 
with spurs jingling at their heels — 
sailors marching again — isolated citizens 
— clerks in business houses. On all 
sides might be some fresh streets, nar- 
row, and studded all over with those 
equivocal lanterns. They pursued their 
way still through this labyrinth of squa- 
lid habitation, over those greasy pave- 
ments through which putrid water was 
oozing, between those walls filled with 
women's flesh. 

At last, Duclos made up his mind, and, 
drawing up before a house of rather 
attractive exterior, made all his compan- 
ions follow him in there. 

II. 

Then followed a scene of thorough* 
going revelry. For four hours the six 
sailors gorged themselves with love and 
wine. Six months' pay was thus wasted. 

In the principal room, in the tavern 
they were installed as masters, gazing 
with malignant glances at the ordinary 
customers, who were seated at the little 
tables in the corners, where one of the 
gills, who was left free to come and 
go, dressed like a big baby or a singer 
at a cafe concert, went about serving 
them, and then seated herself near them. 
Each man, on coming m, had selected his 
partner, whom he kept all the evening, 
for the vulgar taste is not changeable. 



THE PORT 



23; 



They had drawn three tables close up to 
them; and, after the first bumper, the 
procession divided into two parts, in- 
creased by as many women as there were 
seamen, had formed itself anew on the 
staircase. On the wooden steps the 
four feet of each couple kept tramping 
from time to time, while the several 
files of lovers were swallowed up behind 
the narrow doors leading into the dif- 
ferent rooms. 

Then they came down again to have a 
drink, and after they had returned to 
the rooms, descended the stairs once 
more. 

Now, almost intoxicated, they began 
to howl. Each of them, with bloodshot 
eyes, and his chosen female companion 
on his knee, sang or bawled, struck the 
table with his fist, shouted while swilling 
wine down his throat, setting free the 
brute within. In the midst of them, 
Celestin Duclos pressing close to him a 
big damsel with red cheeks, who sat 
astirde over his legs, gazed at her ar- 
dently. Less tipsy than the others, not 
that he had taken less drink, he was as 
yet occupied with other thoughts, and, 
more tender than his comrades, he tried 
to get up a chat. His thoughts wan- 
dered a little, escaped him, and then 
came back, and disappeared again, with- 
out allowing him to recollect exactly 
what he meant to say. 

"What time — ^what time — ^how long 
are you here?" 

"Six months," the girl answered. 

He seemed to be satisfied with her, as 
this were a proof of good conduct, and 
he went on questioning her: 

"Do you like this life?" 

She hesitated- then in a tone of resig- 
nation. 



"One gets used to it. It is not more 
worrying than any other kind of life. 
To be a servant-girl or else a scrub is 
always a nasty occupation." 

He looked as if he also approved of 
this truthful remark. 

"You are not from this place?" sai.I 
he. 

She answered merely by shaking her 
head. 

"Do you come from a distance?" 

She nodded, still without opening her 
lips. 

"Where is it you come from?" 

She appeared to be thinking, to be 
searching her memory, then said fal- 
teringly : 

"From Perpignan." 

He was once more perfectly satisfies, 
and said: 

"Ah! yes." 

In her turn she asked: 

"And you, are you a sailor?" 

"Yes, my beauty." 

"Do you come from a distance?" 

"Ah! yes. I have seen countries, 
ports, and everything." 

"You have been round the world, per- 
haps?" 

"I believe you, twice rather than 
once." 

Again she seemed to hesitate, to search 
in her brain for something that she had 
forgotten, then, in a tone somewhat dif- 
ferent, more serious: 

"Have you met many ships in your 
voyages?" 

"I believe you, my beauty.*' 

"You did not happen to see the 'Notre 
Dame des Vents'?" 

He chuckled: 

"No later than l^st week.'* 



2M 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANl 



She turned pale, all the blood leaving 
her cheeks, and asked: 

*'Is that true, perfectly true?" 

"'Tis true as I tell you." 

"Honor bright! you are not telling 
me a lie?" 

He raised his hand. 

"Before God, I'm not!" said he. 

"Then do you know whether Cclestin 
Duclos is still on her?" 

He was astonished, uneasy, and 
wished, before answering, to learn some- 
thing further. 

"Do you know him?" 

She became distrustful in turn. 

"Oh! 'tis not myself — 'tis a woman 
who is acquainted with him." 

"A woman from this place?" 

"No, from a place not far off." 

"In the street? What sort of a wo- 
man?" 

"Why, then, a woman — a woman like 
myself." 

"What has she to say to him, this wo- 
xnan?" 

"I believe she is a countrywoman of 
Ins." 

They stared into one another's eyes, 
watching one another, feeling, divining 
that something of a grave nature was 
going to arise between them. 

He resumed : 

"I could see her there, this woman.** 

"What would you say to her?" 

"I would say to her — I would say to 
her — that I had seen Celestin Duclos." 

"He is quite well— isn't he?" 

"As well as you or me — ^he is a strap- 
ping young fellow." 

She became silent again, trying to col- 
lect her ideas ; then slowly. 

"Where has the 'Notre Dame des 
Vents' eone to?" 



"Why, just to Marseilles." 

She could not repress a start. 

"Is that really true?" 

"'Tis really true." 

*'Do you know Duclos?" 

"Yes, I do know him." 

She still hesitated; then in a very 
gentle tone : 

"Good! That^s good!" 

"What do you want with him?" 

"Listen! — ^you will tell him — noth- 
ing!" 

He stared at her, more and more 
perplexed. At last he put this question 
to her: 

"Do you know him, too, yourself?" 

"No," said she. 

"Then what do you want with him?" 

Suddenly, she made up her mind what 
to do, left her seat, rushed over to the 
bar where the landlady of the tavern 
presided, seized a lemon, which ihe tore 
open and shed its juice into a glass, 
then she filled this glass with pure 
water, and carrying it across to him: 

"Drink this!" 

"Why?" 

"To make it pass for wine. I will 
talk to you afterward." 

He drank it without further protest, 
wiped his lips with the back of his 
hand, then observed: 

"That's all right. I am listening to 
you." 

"You will promise not to tell him you 
have seen me, or from whom you learned 
what I am going to tell you. You must 
swear not to do so." 

He raised his hand. 

"All right. I swear I will not." 

"Before God?" 

"Before God." 

"Well, you will tell him that his father 



THE PORT * 



285 



I 



died, that his mother died, that his 
brother died, the whole three in one 
month, of typhoid fever, in January, 
1883 — three years and a half ago." 

In his turn he felt all his blood set 
in motion through his entire body, and 
for a few seconds he was so much over- 
powered that he could make no reply; 
then he began to doubt what she had 
told him, and asked: 

"Are you sure?" 

*'I am sure." 

"Who told it to you?" 

She laid her hands on his shoulders, 
and looking at him out of the depths of 
her eyes: 

"You swear not to blab?" 

"I swear that I will not." 

"I am his sister!'' 

He uttered that name in spite of him- 
self: 

"Frangoise?" 

She contemplated him once more with 
a fixed stare, then, excited by a wild 
feeling of terror, a sense of profound 
horror, she faltered in a very low tone, 
almost speaking into his mouth: 

"Oh! oh! it is you, Celestin." 

They no longer stirred, their eyes 
riveted in one another. 

Around them, his comrades were still 
yelling. The sounds made by glasses, by 
fists, by heels keeping time to the 
choruses, and the shrill cries of the wo- 
men, mingled with the roar of their 
songs. 

He felt her leaning on him, clasping 
him, ashamed and frightened, his sister. 
Then, in a whisper, lest anyone might 
hear him, so hushed that she could 
scarcely catch bis words: 

"What a misfortune! I have made a 
nice piece of work of it!" 



The next moment her eyes were filled 
with tears, and she faltered: 

"Is that my fault?" 

But, all of a sudden, he said: 

"So then, they are dead?" 

"They are dead." 

"The father, the mother, and the 
brother?" 

"The three in one month, as I told 
you. I was left by myself with nothing 
but my clothes, for I was in debt to the 
apothecary and the doctor and for the 
funeral, of the three, and had to pay 
what I owed with the furniture. 

"After that I went as a servant to 
the house of Maitre Cacheux, — you 
know him well, — the cripple. I was 
just fifteen at the time, for you went 
away when I was not quite fo'arteen. I 
tripped with bim. One is so senseless 
when one is young. Then J went as a 
nursery-maid to the notaiy, who de- 
bauched me also, and brought me to 
Havre, where he took a room for mc 
After a little while he gave up coming 
to see me. For three days I lived with- 
out eating a morsel of lood; and then, 
not being able to get emplv^yment, I 
went to a house, like many others. I, 
too, have seen different places — ah! and 
dirty places! Rouen, Evreux, Lill*, Bor- 
deaux. Perpignan, Nice, and then Mar- 
seilles, where I am now!'* 

The tears started fiom her eyes,' 
flowed over her nose, wet her checks, 
and trickled into her mouth. 

She went on : 

"I thought you were dead, too: — my 
poor Celestin." 

He said: 

"I would not have recognized you my- 
self — ^you were such a little thing then, 



286 



WORKS OF*GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



tnd here you are so big! — ^but how is it 
that you did not recognize me?" 

She answered with a despairing move- 
ment of her bands: 

**I sec so many men that they all seem 
to me alike." 

He kept his eyes still fixed on her in- 
tently, oppressed by an emotion that 
dazed him and filled him with such pain 
as to make him long to ciy like a 
little child that has been whipped. He 
still held her in his arms, while she sat 
astride on his knees, with his open hands 
against the girl's back ; and now by sheer 
dint of looking continually at her, he at 
length recognized her, the little sister 
left behind in the country with all those 
whom she had seen die, while he had 
been tossing on the seas. Then, sud- 
denly taking between his big seaman's 
paws this head found once more, he be- 
gan to kiss her, as one kisses kindred 
.flesh. And after that, sobs, a man's deep 
sobs, heaving like great billows, rose up 
in his throat, resembling the hiccoughs 
of drunkenness. 

He stammered: 

"And this is you — this is you, Fran- 
^oise— my little Frangoise!" 



Then, all at once, he sprang up, be- 
gan swearing in an awful voice, and 
struck the table such a blow with his 
fist that the glasses were knocked down 
and smashed. After that, he advanced 
three steps, staggered, stretched out his 
arms, and fell on his face. And he rolled 
on the floor, crying out, beating the 
boards with his hands and feet, and 
uttering such groans that they seemed 
like a death rattle. 

All those comrades of his stared at 
him, and laughed. 

"He's not a bit drunk," said one. 

"He ought to be put to bed," said 
another. 

"If he goes out, we'll all be run in to- 
gether." 

Then, as he had money in his poc- 
kets, the landlady offered to let him have 
a bed, and his comrades, themselves so 
much intoxicated that they could not 
stand upright, hoisted him up the nar- 
row stairs to the apartment of the wo- 
man who had just been in his company, 
and who remained sitting on a chair, at 
the foot of that bed of crime, weeping 
quite as freely as he had wept, until the 
morning dawned. 



Chali 



Admiral de la Vallee, who seemed 
to be half asleep in his armchair, said in 
a voice which sounded like an old wo- 
man's • 

"I had a very singular little love ad- 
venture once; would you like to hear 
It?" 

He spoke from the depths of his great 



armchair, with that everlasting dry, 
wrinkled smile on his lips, that smile d 
la Voltaire, which made people take 
for a terrible sceptic. 

I. 

"I was thirty years of age and a first 
lieutenant in the navy, when I was in- 



CHALI 



287 



trusted wii^ an astronomical expedition 
to Central India. The English Govern- 
ment provided me with all the necessary 
means) for carrying out my enterprise, 
and I was soon busied with a few fol- 
lowers in that vast, strange, surprising 
country. 

"It would take me ten volumes to 
relate that journey. I Vv^ent through 
wonderfully magnificent regions, was re- 
ceived by strangely handsome princes, 
and was entertained with incredible mag- 
nificence. For two months it seemed to 
me as if I were walking in a fairy king- 
dom, on the back of imaginary elephants. 
In the midst of wild forests I discovered 
extraordinary ruins, delicate and chiseled 
like jewels, fine as lace and enormous 
as mountains, those fabulous, divine 
monuments which are so graceful that 
one falls in love with their form as with 
a woman, feeling a physical and sensual 
pleasure in looking at them. As Vic- 
tor Hugo says, 'Whilst wide-awake, I 
was walking in a dream.' 

"Toward the end of my journey I 
reached Ganhard, which was formerly 
one of the most prosperous towns in 
Central India, but is now much decayed. 
It is governed by a wealthy, arbitrary, 
violent, generous, and cruel prince. His 
name is Rajah Maddan, a true Oriental 
potentate, delicate and barbarous, affa- 
ble and sanguinary, combining feminine 
grace with pitiless ferocity. 

"The city lies at the bottom of a val- 
ley, on the banks of a little lake sur- 
rounded by pagodas, which bathe their 
walls in the water. At a distance the 
city looks like a white spot, which grows 
larger as one approaches it, and by 
degrees you discover the domes and 



spires, the slender and graceful sum- 
mits of Indian monuments. 

"At about an hour s distance from the 
gates, I met a superbly caparisoned ele- 
phant, surrounded by a guard of honor 
which the sovereign had sent me, and I 
was conducted to the palace with great 
ceremony. 

"X should have liked to have taken 
the time to put on my gala uniform, but 
royal impatience would not admit of it. 
He was anxious to make my acquain- 
tance, to know what he might expect 
from me. 

"I was ushered into a great hall sur- 
rounded by galleries, in the midst of 
bronze-colored soldiers in splendid uni- 
forms, while all about were standing men 
dressed in striking robes, studded with 
precious stones. 

"I saw a shining mass, a kind of set- 
ting sun reposing on r bench like our 
garden benches, without a back; it was 
the rajah who was waiting for me, mo- 
tionless, in a robe of the purest canary 
color. He had some ten or fifteen mil- 
lion francs' worth of diamonds on him, 
and by itself, on his forehead, glistened 
the famous star of Delhi, which has al- 
ways belonged to the illustrious dynasty 
of the Pariharas of Mundore, from 
v/hom my host was descended. 

"He was a man of about five-and- 
twenty, who seemed to have some negro 
blood in his veins, although he belonged 
to the purest Hindoo race. He had 
large, almost motionless, rather vague 
eyes, fat lips, a curly beard, low fore- 
head, and dazzling sharp white teeth, 
which he frequently showed with a me- 
chanical smile. He got up and gave me 
his hand in the English fashion, and then 
made me sit down beside him on a 



288 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



bench which was so hig'i that my feet 
hardly touched the ground, and on 
which I was very uncomfortable. 

*'He immediately proposed a tiger 
hunt for the next day; war and hunting 
were his chief occupations, and he could 
hardly understand how one could care 
for anything else. He was evidently 
fully persuaded that I had only come all 
that distance to amuse him a little, and 
to be the companion of his pleasures. 

"As I stood greatly in need of his 
assistance, I tried to flatter his tastes, 
and he was so pleased with me that he 
Sirmedialely wished to show me how 
his trained boxers fought, and led the 
way into a kind of arena situated with- 
in the palace. 

"At his command two naked men 
appeared, their hands covered with steel 
claws. They immediately began to 
attack each other, trying to strike one 
another wilh these sharp weapons, which 
left long cuts, from which the blood 
flowed f-*ccly down their dark skins. 

"It lasted for a long time, till their 
bodies were a mass of wounds, and the 
combatants were tearing each other's 
flesh with these pointed blades. One of 
them had his jaw smashed, while the 
ear of the other was split into three 
pieces. 

"The prince looked on with ferocious 
pleasure, uttei.d grunts of delight, and 
imitated all iheir movements with 
careless gestures, crying out constantly: 

"'Strike, strike hard!' 

•'One fell down unconscious and had 
to be carried out of the arena, covered 
with blood, while ^hc rajah uttered a sigh 
of regret because it \/as over so soon. 

"He turned to me to know my c pin- 
ion; I was distrusted, but I congratulated 



him loudly. He then gave oraers thai 
I 'vas to be conducted to Kuch-Mahal 
(the palace of pleasure), where I was 
to be lodged. 

'This bijou palace was situated at the 
extremity of the royal park, and one of 
its walls was built into the sacred lake of 
Vihara. It was square, with three rows 
of galleries with colonnades of most 
beautiful workmanship. At each angle 
there were light, lofty, or low towers, 
standing either singly or in pairs; no two 
were alike, and they looked like flowers 
growing cut of that graceful plant of 
Orienial architecture. All were sur- 
mounted by fantastic roofs, like coquet- 
tish ladies' caps. 

"In the middle of the edifice a large 
dome raised its round cupola, like a 
woman's bosom, besiie a beautiful 
clock-tower. 

"The whole building was covered with 
sculpture from top to bottom, with ex- 
quisite arabesques which delighted the 
eye, motionless processions of delicate 
figures whose attitudes and gestures in 
stone told the story of Indian manners 
and customs. 

"The rooms were lighted by windows 
with dcntelated arches, looking on to 
the gardens. On the marble floor were 
designs of graceful bouquets in onyx, 
lapis-lazuli, and agat?. 

"I had scarcely had time to finish my 
toilette when Haribada, a co^rt digni« 
tary who was specially 'charged to com* 
municate between the princj and me, 
announced his sovereign's v' It. 

"The saffron-colored rajah appeared, 
agaJn shook hands with me, and began 
to lell me l thouiand different things, 
constantly asking me lor my opinion, 
which I had great difficulty in giving him 



CHALI 



28ft 



Then he wished to show me the ruins of 
the former palace at the other extremity 
oi the gardens. 

"It was a real forest of stones in- 
habited by a large tribe of apes. On our 
approach the males began to run along 
the walls, making the most hideous faces 
at us, while the females ran away, carry- 
ing off their young in their arms. The 
rajah shouted with laughter and pinched 
my arm to draw my attention, and to 
testify his own delight, and sat down in 
the midst of the ruins, while around us, 
squatting on the top of the walls, perch- 
ing on every eminence, a number of 
animals with white whiskers put out 
their tongues and shook their fists at us. 

"When he had seen enough of this, the 
yellow rajah rose and began to walk 
sedately on, keeping me always at his 
side, happy at having shown me such 
things on the very day of my arrival, 
and reminding me that a grand tiger- 
hunt was to take place the next day, in 
my honor. 

"I was present at it, at a second, a 
third, at ten. twenty in succession. We 
hunted all the animals which the country 
produces in turn ; the panther, the bear, 
elephant, antelope, and the crocodile — 
half the beasts in creation I should say. 
I was disgusted at seeing so much blood 
flow, and tired of this monotonous plea- 
sure. 

"At length the prince's ardor abated 
and, at my urgent request, he left me 
a little leisure for work, contenting him- 
self by loading me with costly presents. 
He sent me jewels, magnificent stuffs, 
and well-broken animals of all sorts, 
which Haribada presented to me with 
apparently as grave respect as if I had 
been the sun himself, although he 



heartily despised me at the bottom of 
his heart. 

"Every day a procession of servants 
brought me, in covered dishes, a portion 
of each course that was served at the 
royal table. Every day he seemed to 
take an extreme pleasure in getting up 
some new entertainment for me — dances 
by the bayaderes, jugglers, reviews of 
the troops, and I was obliged to pretend 
to be most delighted with it, so as not to 
hurt his feelings when he wished to 
show me his wonderful country in all its 
charm and all its splendor. 

"As soon as I was left alone for a 
few moments I either worked or went 
to see the monkeys, whose company 
pleased me a great deal better tLan that 
of their royal master. 

"One evening, however, on coming 
back from a walk, I found Haribada 
outside the gate of my palace. He told 
me in mysterious tones that a gift from 
the king was waiting for me in my abode, 
and he said that his master begged me to 
excuse him for not having sooner 
thought of offering me that of which I 
had been deprived for such a long time. 

"After these obscure remarks the am* 
bassador bowed and withdrew. 

"When I went in I saw six little girls 
standing against the wall, motionless, 
'side-by-side, like smelts on a skewer. 
The eldest was perhaps ten and the 
youngest eight years old. For the first 
moment I could not understand why this 
girls' school had taken up its abode in 
my rooms; then, however, I divined 
the prince's delicate attention: he had 
made me a present of a harem, and had 
chosen it very young from an excess of 
generosity. There, the more unripe tli6 



290 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



fruit is, in the higher estimation it is 
held. 

"For some time I remained confused, 
embarrassed, and ashamed in the pres- 
ence of these children, who looked at me 
with great grave eyes which seemed al- 
ready to divine what I might want of 
them. 

"I did not know what to say to them; 
I felt inclined to send them back; but 
I could not return the presents of a 
prince; it would have been a mortal in- 
sult. I was obliged, therefore, to install 
this troop of children in my palace. 

"They stood motionless, looking at 
me, waiting for my orders, trying to 
read my thoughts in my eyes. Con- 
found such a present! How absurdly it 
was in my way. At last, thinking that 
I must be looking rather ridiculous, I 
asked the eldest her name. 

" 'Chali,' she replied. 

"This Httle creature, with her beauti- 
ful skin, which was slightly yellow, like 
old ivory, was a marvel, a perfect statue, 
with her face and its long and severe 
lines. 

"I then asked, in order to see what 
she would reply, and also, perhaps, to 
embarrass her: 

" 'What have you come here for?' 

"She replied in her soft, harmonious 
voice: 'I have come to be altogether at 
my lord's disposal, and to do whatever 
he wishes.* She was evidently quite 
resigned. 

"1 put the same question to the 
youngest, who answered immediately in 
her shrill voice: 

" 'I am here to do whatever you ask 
me, my master.* 

"This one was like a little mouse, and 
was very taking, just as they all were, 



so I took her in my arms and kissed her. 
The others made a movement to go 
away, thinking, no doubt, that I had 
made my choice; but I ordered them to 
stay, and sitting down in the Indian 
fashion, I made them all sit round me 
and began to tell them fairy-tales, for I 
spoke their language tolerably well. 

"They listened very attentively, and 
trembled, wringing cheir hands in agony. 
Poor little things, they were not thinking 
any longer of the reason why they were 
sent 10 me. 

"When I had finished my story, 1 
called Latchman, my confidential ser- 
vant, and made him bring sweetmeats 
and cakes, of which they ate enough to 
make themselves ill. Then, as I be- 
gan to find the adventure rather funny, 
I organized games to amuse my wives. 

"One of these diversions had an enor- 
mous success. I made a bridge of my 
legs and the six children ran under- 
neath, the smallest beginning and the 
tallest always knocking againsf: them a 
little, because she did not stoo]) enough. 
It made them shout with laughter, and 
these young voices sounding through the 
low vaults of my sumptuous palace 
seemed to wake it up and to people it 
with childlike gaiety and life. 

"Next I took great interest in seeing 
to the sleeping apartments of my inno- 
cent concubines, and in the end I saw 
them safely locked up under the surveil- 
lance of four female servants, whom the 
prince had sent me at the same time in 
order to take care of my sultanas. 

"For a week I took the greatest plea- 
sure in acting the part of a father to- 
ward these living dolls. We had capital 
games of hide-and-seek and puss-in-the- 
corner, which gave them the greatest 



CHALI 



29: 



pleasure. Every day I taught them a 
new game, to their intense delight. 

"My house now seemed to be one 
large nursery, and my little friends, 
dressed in beautiful silk stuffs, and in 
materials embroidered with gold and sil- 
ver, ran up and down the long galleries 
and the quiet rooms like little human 
animals. 

"Chali was an adorable little creature, 
timid and gentle, who soon got to love 
me ardently, with some degree of shame, 
with hesitation as if afraid of European 
morality, with reserve and scruples, and 
yet with passionate tenderness. I cher- 
ished her as if I had been her father. 

"The others continued to play in the 
palace like a lot of happy kittens, but 
Chali never left me except when I went 
to the prince. 

"We passed delicious hours together 
in the ruins of the old castle, among the 
monkeys, who had become our friends. 

"She used to lie on my knees, and re- 
main there, turning all sorts of things 
over in her little sphinx's head, or per- 
haps not thinking of anything, retain- 
ing that beautiful, charming, hereditary 
pose of that noble and dreamy people, 
the hieratic pose of the sacred stacues. 

"In a large brass dish I had one day 
brought provisions, cakes, fruits. The 
apes came nearer and nearer, followed 
by their young ones, who were more 
timid; at last they sat down round us 
in a circle, without daring to come any 
nearer, waiting for me to distribute my 
delicacies. Then, almost invariably, a 
male more daring than the rest would 
come to me with outstretched hand, like 
a beggar, and I would give him some- 
thing, which he would take to his wife. 
All the others immediately began to 



utter furious cries, cries of rage and 
jealousy; and I could not make the 
terrible racket cease except by throwing 
each one his share. 

"As I was very comfortable in the 
ruins I had my instruments brought 
there, so that I might be able to work. 
As soon, however, as they saw the copper 
fittings on my scientific instruments, the 
monkeys, no doubt taking them for 
some deadly engines, lied on all bides, 
uttering the most piercing cries. 

"I often spent my evenings with 
Chali on one of the external galleries 
that looked on to the lake of Vihara. 
One night in silence we looked at the 
bright moon gliding over the sky, throw- 
ing a mantle of trembling silver over the 
v/ater, and, on the further shore, upon 
the row of small pagodas like carved 
mushrooms with their stalks in the 
v/ater. Taking the thoughtful head of 
my little mistress between my hands, 
I printed a long, soft kiss on her polished 
brow, on her great eyes, which were full 
of the secret of that ancient and fabu- 
lous land, and on her calm lips which 
opened to my caress. I felt a confused, 
powerful above all a poetical, sensa- 
tion, the sensation that I possessed a 
whole race in this little girl, that mys- 
terious race from which all the others 
seem to have taken their origin. 

"The prince, however, continued to 
load me with presents. One day he sent 
me a very unexpected object, which ex- 
cited a passionate admiration in Chali, 
It was merely one of those cardboard 
boxes covered with shells stuck on out- 
side, which can be bought at any Euro- 
pean seasitle resort for a penny or twa 
But there it was a jewel beyond price, 
and no doubt was the firpt that bad 



292 

found its way into the kingdom. I put 
it on a table and left it there, wonder- 
ing at the value which was sel upon this 
trumpery article out of a bazaar. 

"But Chali never got tired of looking 
at it, of admiring it ecstatically. From 
time to time she would say to me, 'May 
I touch it?' And when I had given her 
permission she raised the lid, closed it 
again with the greatest precaution, 
touched the shells very gently, and the 
contact seemed to give her real physical 
pleasure. 

"However, I had finished my scientific 
work, and it was time for me to return. 
I was a long time in making up my 
mind, kept back by my tenderness for 
my little friend, but at last I was obliged 
to fix the day of my departure. 

"The prince got up fresh hunting ex- 
cursions and fresh wrestling matches, 
and after a fortnight o^ these pleasures 
I declared that I could stay no longer, 
and he gave me my liberty. 

"My farewell from Chali was heart- 
rending. She wept, lying beside me, with 
her head on my breast, shaken with 
sobs. I did not know how to console 
her; my kisses were no good. 

"All at once an idea struck me, and 
getting up I went and got the shell-box, 
-and putting it into her hands, I said, 
'That is for you; it is yours.' 

"Then I saw her smile at first. Her 
whole face was lighted up with internal 
joy, with that profound joy which comes 
when impossible dreams are suddenly 
realized, and she embraced me ardently. 

"All the same, she wept bitterly when 
1 bade her a last farewell 

"I gave paternal kisses and cakes to 
all the rest of my wives, and then I left 
for home 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



n. 

"Two years had passed when mv 
duties again called me to Bombay, and 
because I knew the country and the 
language well, I was left there to undei- 
take another mission. 

"I finished what I had to do as 
quickly as possible, and as I had a con- 
siderable amount of spare time on my 
hands I determined to go and see my 
friend Rajah Maddan and my dear httle 
Chali once more, though I expected to 
find her much changed. 

*'The rajah received me with every 
demonstration of pleasure, and hardly 
left me for a moment during the firsi 
day of my visit. At night, however, 
when I was alone, I sent for Haribada 
and after several misleading questions 
I said to him: 

"Do you know what has become of 
little Chali, whom the rajah gave me?' 

"He immediately assumed a sad and 
troubled look, and said, in evident em- 
barrassment : 

" 'We had better not speak of her.' 

" 'Why? She was a dear little wo- 
man.* 

" 'She turned out badly, sir.' 

"'What — Chali? What has be- 
come of her? Where is she?' 

" 'I mean to say that she came to 
a bad end.' 

"'A bad end! Is she dead?' 

" 'Yes. She committed a very dread- 
ful action.' 

"I was very much distressed. T felt 
my heart beat ; my breast was oppressed 
with grief and I insisted on knowing 
what she had done and what had hap- 
pened to her. 

"The man became more and more em- 



JEROBOAM 



293 



faarrassed. and murmured: 'You had 
better not ask about it.' 
" 'But I want to know.' 
" 'She stole—' 

" 'Who— Chali? What did she steal?* 
*' 'Something that belonged to you.' 
" 'To me? What do you mean?' 
" 'The day you left she stole that 
little box which the prince had given 
you; it was found in her hands.' 
" 'What box are you talking about?' 
" 'The box covered with shells.* 
" 'But I gave it to her.* 
"The Hindoo looked at me with stupe- 
faction, and then replied: 'Well, she de- 
clared with the most sacred oaths that 
you had given it to her, but nobody 
could believe that you could have given 
a king's present to a slave, and so the 
rajah had her punished,* 



" 'How was she punished? What was 
done to her?' 

" 'She was tied up in a sack and 
thrown into the lake from this window, 
from the window of the room in which 
we are, where she had committed the 
theft.' 

"I felt the most terrible grief that I 
ever experienced, and made a sign to 
Haribada to go away so that he might 
not see my tears. I spent the night on 
the gallery which looked on to the lake, 
on the gallery where I had so often 
held the poor child on my knees, and 
pictured to myself her pretty little body 
lying decomposed in a sack in the dark 
waters beneath me. 

"The next day I left again, in spite 
cf the rajah's entreaties and evident 
vexation; and I now still feel as if I had 
never loved any woman but Chali." 



Jeroboam 



Anyone who said, or even insinuated, 
that the Reverend William Greenfield, 
vicar of St. Sampson's, Tottenham, did 
not make his wife Anna perfectly happy, 
would certainly have been very mali- 
cious. In their twelve years of married 
life he had honored her with twelve 
children, and could anybody ask more 
of a saintly man? 

Saintly even to heroism, in truth! 
For his wife Anna, who was endowed 
with invaluable virtues, which made her 
a model among wives and a paragon 
among mothers, had not been equally en- 
dowed physically. In one word, she 
was hideous- Her hair, which though 



thin was coarse, was the color ot the 
national half-and-half, but of thick half- 
and-half which looked as if it had been 
already swallowed several times. Her 
complexion, which was muddy and pim- 
ply, looked as if it were covered with 
sand mixed with brick-dust. Her teeth, 
which were long and protruding seemed 
to start out of their sockets in order to 
escape from that almost lipless mouth 
whose sulphurous breath had turned 
them yellow. Evidently Anna suffered 
from bile. 

Her china-blue eyes looked different 
ways, one very much to the right and 
the other very much to the bft, with a 



294 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



frightened squint; no doubt in order that 
they might not see her nose, of which 
they felt ashamed. They were quite 
right! Thin, soft, long, pendent, sallow, 
and ending in a violet knob, it irresisti- 
bly reminded those who saw it of some- 
thing both ludicrous and indescribable. 
Her body, through the inconceivable 
irony of nature, was at the same time 
thin and flabby, wooden and chubby, 
without either the elegance of slimness 
or the rounded curves of stoutness. It 
might have been taken for a body which 
had form.erly been fat, but which had 
now grown thin, while the covering had 
remained stretched on the framework. 

She was evidently nothing but skin 
and bone, but had too much bone and 
too little skin. 

It will be seen that the reverend gen- 
tleman had done his duty, his whole 
duty, in fact more than his duty, m 
sacrificing a dozen times dh this altar. 
Yes, a dozen t^raes biavely and loyally! 
His vnfe £oald not deny it, or dispute 
the number, because the children were 
there to prove it- A dozen times, and 
not one less! 

And, alas! not once more. This was 
the reason why, in spite of appearances, 
Mrs. Anna Greenfield ventured to think, 
in the depths of her heart, that the 
Reverend William Greenfield, vicar of 
St. Sampson's, Tottenham, had not made 
her perfectly happy. She thought so all 
the more as, for four years now, she 
had been obliged to renounce all hope of 
that annual sacrifice, which had been 
so easy and so regular formerly, but 
which had now fallen into disuse. In 
fact, at the birth of her twelfth child, 
Ihe reverend gentleman had expressly 
^id to ber: 



"God has greatly blessed our union, 
my dear Anna. We have reached the 
sacred number of the Twelve Tribes of 
Israel. Were we now to persevere in 
the works of the flesh it would be mere 
debauchery, and I cannot suppose that 
you would wish me to end my exem- 
plary life in lustful practices." 

His wife blushed and looked down, 
and the holy man, with that legitimate 
pride of virtue which is its own reward, 
audibly thanked Heaven that he was 
"not as other m^en are." 

A model among wives and a paragon 
of mothers, Anna lived with him for 
four years on those terms, without com- 
plaining to anyone. She contented her- 
self by praying fervently to God that 
He would inspire her husband with the 
desire to begin a second series of the 
Twelve Tribes. At times even, in or- 
der to make her prayers more efficacious, 
she tried to compass that end by culi- 
nary means. She spared no pains, and 
gorged the reverend gentleman with 
highly seasoned dishes — ^hare soup, ox- 
tails stewed in sherry, the green fat in 
turtle soup, stewed mushrooms, Jeru- 
salem artichokes, celery, and horse- 
radish; hot sauces, truffies, hashes with 
wine and cayenne pepper in them, cur- 
ried lobsters, pies made of cocks' combs, 
oysters, and the soft roe of fish. These 
dishes were washed down by strong 
beer and generous wines, Scotch ale, 
Burgundy, dry champagne, brandy, 
whisky, and gin — in a word, by that 
numberless array of alcholic drinks with 
wnich the English people love to heat 
their blood. 

As a matter of fact, the reverend 
gentleman's blood became very heated, 
as was shown by his nose and cheeks. 



JEROBOAM 



295 



But in spite of this, the powers above 
were inexorable, and he remained quite 
indifferent as regards his wife, who was 
unhappy and thoughtful at the sight of 
that protruding nasal appendage, which, 
alas! was alone in its glory. 

She became thinner, and, at the same 
time, flabbier than ever. She almost 
began to lose her trust in God, when, 
suddenly, she had an inspiration: was 
it not, perhaps, the work of the devil? 

She did not care to inquire too closely 
into the matter, as she thought it a 
very good idea. It was this: 

"Go to the Universal Exhibition in 
Paris, and there, perhaps, you will dis- 
cover how to make yourself loved." 

Decidedly luck favored her, for her 
iiusband immediately gave her permis- 
sion to go. As soon as she got into 
the Esplanade des Invalides she saw the 
Algerian dancers and said to herself: 

"Surely this would inspire William 
with the desire to be the father of the 
thirteenth tribe!" 

But how could she manage to get him 
to be present at such abominable orgies? 
For she could not hide from herself that 
it was an abominable exhibition, and she 
knew how scandalized he would be at 
■^heir voluptuous movements. She had 
no doubt that the devil had led her there, 
but she could not take her eyes off the 
scene, and it gave her an idea. So for 
nearly a fortnight you might have seen 
the poor, unattractive woman sitting and 
attentively and curiously v/atching the 
swaying hips of the Algerian women. 
She was learning. 

The eveiiing ot her return to London 
she rushed inco her husband's bedroom, 
disrobed herself in an instant, retaining 
only a thin gauze covering., and for the 



first time in her life appeared before him 
in all the ugliness of semi-nudity. 

"Come, come," the saintly man stam- 
mered ou*,, "are you — are you mad, 
Anna! What demon possesses you? 
Why inflict the disgrace of such a spec- 
tacle on me?" 

But she did not listen to him, did not 
reply, and suddenly began to sway her 
hips about like an almah.'^ The rev^ 
erend gentleman could not believe his 
eyes; in his stupefaction, he did not 
think of covering them with his hands 
or even of shutting them. He looked at 
her stupefied and dumfounded, a prey 
to the hypnotism of ugliness. He 
watched her as she advanced and re- 
tired, as she swayed and skipped and 
wriggled and postured in extraordinary 
attitudes. For a long time he sat mo- 
tionless and almost unable to speak. He 
only said in a low voice : 

"Oh, Lord! To think that twelve 
times — twelve times- -a whole dozen!" 

Then she fell into a chair, panting 
and worn out, and saying to herself: 

**Thank Heaven! \Villiam looks as 
he used to do formerly on the days 
that he honored me. Thank Heaven! 
There will be a thirteenth tribe, and 
then a fresh series of tribes, for WiUiam 
is very methodical in all that he does!" 

But William merely took a blanket off 
the bed and threw it over her, saying in 
a voice of thunder: 

"Your name is no longer Anna, Mrs. 
Greenfield; for the future you shall be 
called Jezebel. I only regret that I 
have twelve times mingled my blood 
with your impure blood." And then, 
seized by pity, he added : *'If you were 



♦Egyptian dancing- girl. — (Translator.) 



296 

only in a state of inebriety, of intoxica- 
tion, 1 could excuse you." 

"Oh, William!" she exclaimed, repen- 
tantly, *'I am in that state. Forgive me, 
William— forgive a poor drunken wo- 
man!" 

"I will forgive you, Anna," he re- 
plied, and he pointed to a wash-basin, 
saying: "Cold water will do you good, 
and when your head is clear, remember 
the lesson which you must learn from 
this occurrence." 

"What lesson?" she asked, humbly. 

"That people ought never to depart 
from their usual habits." 

"But why, then, William," she asked, 
timidly, "have you changed your 
habits?" 

"Hold your tongue!" he cried, "hold 
your tongue, Jezebel ! Have you not got 
over your intoxication yet? For twelve 
years I certainly followed the divine 
precept: 'increase and multiply,' once a 
year. But since then, I have grown 
accustomed to something else, and I do 
not wish to alter my habits." 

.\nd the Reverend William Green- 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



field vicar of St. Sampson's, Totten- 
ham, the saintly man whose blood was 
inflamed by heating food and liquor, 
whose ears were like full-blown poppies, 
and who had a nose like a tomato, left 
his wife and, as had been his habit for 
four years, went to make love to Polly, 
the servant. 

"Now, Polly," he said, "you are a 
clever girl, and I mean, through you, 
to teach Mrs. Greenfield a lesson she 
will never forget. I will try and see 
what I can do for you." 

And to accomplish this, he took her 
to Mrs. Greenfield, called the latter his 
little Jezebel, and said to her, with an 
unctuous smile: 

**Call me Jeroboam! You don't un- 
derstand why? Neither do I, but that 
does not matter. Take off all your 
things, Polly, and show yourself to Mrs. 
Greenfield." 

The servant did as she was bidden, 
and the result was that Mrs. Greenfield 
never again hinted to her husband the 
desirability of laying the foundations 
of a thirteenth tribe. 



Virtue in the Ballet 



It is a strange feeling of pleasure that 
*he writer about the stage and about 
theatrical characters in general feels 
when he occasionally discovers a good, 
honest human heart in the twilight be- 
hind the scenes. Of all the witches and 
semi-witches of that eternal Walpurgis 
Night, whose boards represent the 
world, the ladies of the ballet have at 
all tiroes and in all places been regarded 
as least like saints, although Hacklan- 



der repeatedly tried in vain, in his 
earlier novels, to convince us that true 
virtue appears in tights and short petti- 
coats, and is only to be found in ballet 
girls. I fear that the popular voice is 
right as a general rule, but it is equally 
true that here and there one finds a pearl 
in the dust, and even in the dirt. The 
short story that I am about to tell will 
best justify my assertion. 

Whenever a new. youthful dancei 



VIRTUE IN THE BALLET 



297 



appeared at the Vienna Opera House, 
the habitues began to go after her, and 
did not rest until the fresh young rose 
had been plucked by some hand or other 
though often it was old and trembling. 
For how could those young and pretty, 
sometimes even beautiful, girls — with 
every r^ght to life, love, and pleasure, 
but poor and on a very small salary — 
resist the seduction of the smell of 
flowers and of the flash of diamonds? 
And if one resisted it, it was love, some 
real, strong passion, that gave her the 
strength; generally, however, only to 
go after luxury all the more shamelessly 
and selfishly, when her lover forsook 
her. 

At the beginning of the winter sea- 
son of 185 — the pleasing news was 
spread among the habitues, that a girl 
of dazzling beauty was going to appear 
very shortly in the ballet at the Court 
Theater. When the evening came, no- 
body had yet seen the much discussed 
phenomenon, but report spread her 
name from mouth to mouth: it was 
Satanella. The moment the troop of 
slactic figures in fluttering petticoats 
jumped on to the stage, every opera- 
glass in the boxes and stalls was directed 
on the stage, and at the same instant the 
new dancer was discovered, although she 
timidly kept in the background. 

She was one of those girls who seem 
crowned with the bright halo of vir- 
ginity, but at the same time present 
a splendid type of womanhood. She 
had the voluptuous form of Ruben's 
second wife, whom they called, not im- 
truly, a reincarnated Helen, and her 
head with its delicate nose, its small, full 
mouth, and its dark, enquiring eyes re- 
minded people of the celebrated picture 



of the Flemish Venus in the Belvedere 
in Vienna. 

She took the old guard of the Vienna 
Court Theater by storm, and the very 
next morning a perfect shower of billets^ 
doux, jewels, and bouquets fell into the 
poor ballet-girl's attic. For a moment 
she was dazzled by all this splendor, and 
looked at the gold bracelets, the brooches 
set with rubies and emeralds, and at the 
sparkling earrings, with flushed cheeks. 
Then an unspeakable terror of being 
lost and of sinking into degradation 
seized her, and she pushed the jewels 
away and was about to send them back. 
But as is usual in such cases, her mother 
intervened in favor of the generous 
gentlemen, and so the jewels were 
accepted, but the notes which accom- 
panied them were not answered. A 
second and a third discharge of Cupid's 
artillery followed without making any 
impression on that virtuous girl ; in con- 
sequence a great number of her admirers 
grew quiet, though some continued to 
send her presents and to assail her with 
love letters. One had the courage to 
go still further. 

He was a wealthy banker who had 
called on the mother of Henrietta, as 
we will call the fair-haired ballet-girl, 
and then one evening, quite unexpect- 
edly, on the girl herself. He by no 
means met with the reception which he 
had expected from the pretty girl in the 
faded, cotton gown. Henrietta treated 
him with a certain amount of good- 
humored respect, which had a much 
more unpleasant effect on him than that 
coldness and prudery which is often co- 
existent with coquetry and selfish specu- 
lation among a certain class of women. 
In spite of everything, however, he soon 



2Q8 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



went to see her daily, and lavished his 
wealth on the beautiful dancer, without 
request on her pan and gave her no 
chance of refusing, for he relied on the 
mother for everything. The mother 
took pretty, small apartments for her 
daughter and herself in the Kiirntner- 
strasse and furnished them elegantly, 
hired a cook and housemaid, made an 
arrangement with a fly-driver, and lastly 
clothed her daughter's lovely lines in 
silk, velvet, and valuable lace. 

Henrietta persistently held her 
tongue at all this; only once she said to 
her mother, in the presence of the 
Stock Exchange Jupiter: 

"Have you won a prize in the lot- 
tery?" 

"Of course, I have," her mother re- 
plied with a laugh. 

The girl, however, had given away 
her heart long before, and, contrary to 
all precedent, to a man of whose very 
name she was ignorant, who sent her 
no diamonds, and not even flowers. But 
he was young and good-looking, and 
stood, so retiringly and so evidently in 
love, at the small side door of the Opera 
House every night, when she got out of 
her antediluvian and rickety fly, and also 
when she got into it again after the per- 
formance, that she could not help notic- 
ing him. Soon, he began to follow her 
wherever she went, and once he sum- 
moned up courage to speak to her, when 
she had been to see a friend in a remote 
suburb. He was very nervous, but she 
thought all that he said very clear and 
logical, and she did not hesitate for a 
moment to confess that she returned 
his love. 

*Tou have made me the happiest, and 



at the same time, the most wretched 
of men," he said after a pause. 

"What do you mean?" she said inno- 
cently. 

"Do you not belong to another man?" 
he asked her in a sad voice. 

She shook her abundant, light curls 

"Up till now I have belonged to my- 
self alone, and I will prove it to you, by 
requesting you to call upon me fre- 
quently and without restraint. Every- 
one shall know that we are lovers. I 
am not ashamed of belonging to an 
honorable man, but I will not sell my- 
self." 

"But your splendid apartments, and 
your dresses," her lover interposed 
shyly; "you cannot pay for them out 
of your salary." 

"My mother has won a large prize 
in the lottery, or made a hit on the 
Stock Exchange." And with these 
words, the determined girl cut short all 
further explanations. 

That same evening the young man 
paid his first visit, to the horror of the 
girl's mother, who was so devoted to 
the Stock Exchange, and he came again 
the next day, and nearly every day. 
Her mother's reproaches wero of no 
more avail than Jupiter's furious looks, 
and when the latter one day asked for 
an explanation as to certain visits, the 
girl said proudly: 

"That is very soon explained. He 
loves me as I love him, and I presume 
you can guess the rest." 

And he certainly did guess the rest 
and disappeared, and with him the 
shower of gold ceased. 

The mother cried and the daughter 
laughed. "I never gave the wornout 
old rake any hopes, and what does it 



VIRTUE IN THE BALLET 



matter to me what bargain you made 
with him? I always thought that you 
had been lucky on the Stock Exchange. 
Now, however, we must seriously con- 
sider about giving up our apartments, 
and make up our minds to live as we 
did before." 

"Are you . really capable of making 
such a sacrifice for me, to renounce lux- 
ury and to have my poverty?" her lover 
said. 

"Certainly I aiii' Is not that a 
matter of course when one loves?" the 
ballet-girl replied in surprise. 

"Then let me inform you, my dear 
Henrietta," he said, "that I am not so 
poor as you think; I only wished to 
find out whether I could make myself 
loved for my own, sake, and I have done 

so. I am Count L , and though I 

am a minor and dependent on my 
parents, yet I have enough to be able 
to retain your pretty rooms for you, 
and to offer you, if not a luxurious, at 
any rate a comfortable existence." 

On hearing this the mother dried her 
tears immediately. Count L be- 
came the girl's acknowledged lover, and 
they passed the happiest hours together. 
Unselfish as the girl was, she was yet 
such a thoroughly ingenuous Viennese, 
that, whenever she saw anything that 
took her fancy, whether it was a dress, a 
cloak, or one of those pretty little orna- 
ments for a side table, she used to ex- 
press her admiration in such terms as 
forced her lover to make her a present 
of the object in question. In this way 

Count L incurred enormous debts, 

vhich his father paid repeatedly; at last, 
however, he inquired into the cause of 
all this extravagance, and when he dis- 
covered it he gave his son the choice 



of giving up his connection with the 
dancer, or of relinquishing all claims on 
the paternal money box. 

It was a sorrowful evening, when 

Count L told his mistress of his 

father's determination. 

'*If I do not give you up I shall bt 
able to do nothing for you," he said 
at last, "and I shall not even know 
how I should manage to live myself, foi 
my father is just the man to allow me 
to want, if I defy him. That, however, 
is a very secondary consideration; but as 
a man of honor, I cannot bind you, who 
have every right to luxury and enjoy- 
ment, to myself, from the moment when 
I cannot even keep you from want, and 
so I must set you at liberty." 

"But I will not give you up," Hen- 
rietta said proudly. 

The young Count shook his head 
sadly. 

"Do you love me?" the ballet-girl said 
quickly. 

"More than my life." 

"Then we will not separate, as long 
as I have anything," she continued. 

And she would not give up her con- 
nection with him, and when his father 

actually turned Count L into the 

street, she took her lover into her own 
lodgings. He obtained a situation as a 
copying clerk in a lawyer's office, and 
she sold her valuable dresses and jewels. 
Thus they lived for more than a year. 

The young man's father did not appear 
to trouble his head about them, but 
nevertheless he knew everything that 
went on in their small home, and knew 
every article that the ballet-girl sold. At 
last, softened by such love and strength 
of character, he himself made the first 



300 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



advances to a reconciliation with his son. she was a ballet-girl. Now she sits hy 

At the present time Henrietta wears the side of her husband in a carriage on 

the diamonds which formerly belonged whose panels their armorial bearings are 

to the old Countess, and it is long since painted 



The Double Pins 



Ah! my dear fellow, \^at jades wo- 
men are!" 

"What makes you say that?" 

'Because they have played me an 
ibominaDle trick." 

"You?" 

"Yes, me." 

"Women, or a woman?" 

"Two women." 

"Two women at once?" 

"Yes." 

"What was the trick?" 

The two young men were sittirig out- 
side a cafe on the Boulevards, and drink- 
ing liqueurs mixed with water, those 
aperients which look hke infusions of all 
the tints in a box of water-colors. They 
were nearly the same age: twenty-five 
to thirty. One v/as dark and the other 
fair, and they had the same semi-ele- 
gant look of stockjobbers, of men who 
go to the Stock Exchange, and into 
drawing-rooms, who are to be seen 
everywhere, who live everywhere, and 
love everywhere. The dark one con- 
tinued. 

"I have told you of my connection 
with that little woman, a tradesman's 
wife, whom I met on the beach at 
Dieppe?" 

'Tes" 

"My dear fellow, you know how it is. 
I bad a mistress in Paris whom I \ow9 



dearly, an old friend, a good friend, 
who is virtually a habit, in fact — one 
I value very much." 

"Your habit?" 

"Yes, my habit, and hers also. She 
is married to an excellent man, whom 
I also value very moch, a very cordial 
fellow and a capital companion ! I may 
say that my life is bound up with that 
house." 

"Well?" 

"Well! they could not manage to 
leave Paris, and I found myself a 
widower at Dieppe." 

"Why did you go to Dieppe?" 

"For change of air. One cannot re- 
main on the Boulevards the whole time." 

"And then?" 

"ITien I met the little woman I men* 
tioned to you on the beach there." 

"The wife of that head of a public 
office?" 

"Yes, she was dreadfully dull; her 
husband only came every Sunday, and 
he is horrible! I understood her per- 
fectly, and we laughed and danced to 
gether." 

"And the rest?" 

"Yes, but that came later. However, 
we met, and we liked each other. I told 
her I liked her, and she made me repeat 
it, so that .she might understand i* 



THE DOUBLE PIN: 



301 



better, and she put no obstacles in my 
way." 

"Did you love her?" 
** Yes a little ! she is very nice." 
*'And what about the other?'' 
"The other was in Paris! Well, for 
six weeks it was very pleasant, and we re- 
turned here on the best of terms. Do 
you know how to break with a woman, 
when that woman has not wronged you 
in any way?" 

"Yes, perfectly well." 
"How do you manage it?" 
"I give her up." 
"How do you do it?" 
"I do not see her any longer." 
•'But supposing she comes to you?" 
"I am not at home." 
"And if she comes again?" 
"I say I am not well." 
"If she looks after you?" 
"I play her some dirty trick." 
"And if she puts up with it?" 
"I WTite her husband anonymous let- 
ters, so that he may look after her on 
the days that I expect her." 

"That is serious ! I cannot resist, and 
do not know how to bring about a rup- 
ture, and so I have a collection of mis- 
tresses. There are some whom I do 
not see more than once a year, others 
every ten months, others on those days 
when they want to dine at a restaurant, 
those whom I have put at regular inter- 
vals do not worry me, but I often have 
great difficulty with the fresh ones, so as 
to keep them at proper intervals." 
"And then?" 

"And then — ^then, this little woman 
was all iire and flame, without any fault 
<ot mine, as I told you ! As her husband 
spends all the whole day at the office, she 
began to come to me unexpectedly, and 



twice she nearly met my regular one 
on the stairs." 

"The devil!" 

"Yes; so I gave each of them her 
days, regular days, to avoid confusion, 
Saturday and Monday for the old one, 
Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday for the 
new one." 

"Why did you show her the prefer- 
ence?" 

"Ah ! My dear friend, she is younger." 

"So that only gave you two days to 
yourself in a week." 

"That is enough for one." 

"Allow me to compliment you on 
that." 

"Well, just fancy that the most ridic- 
ulous and most annoying thing in the 
world happened to me. For four months 
everything had been going on per- 
fectly ; I felt quite safe, and I was leally 
very happy, when suddenly, last Mon- 
day, the crash came. 

"I was expecting my regular one at 
the usual time, a quarter past one, and 
was smoking a good cigar, dreaming, 
very well satisfied with myself, when 
I suddenly saw that it was past the time. 
I was much surprised for she is very 
punctual, but I thought that something 
might have accidentally delayed her. 
However, half an hour passed, then an 
hour, an hour and a half, and then I 
knew that something must have de- 
tained her — a sick headache, perhaps, or 
some annoying visitor. That sort of 
waiting is very vexatious, very annoying, 
and enervating. At last I made up my 
mind to go out, and not knowing what 
to do, I went to her and found her 
reading a novel. 

" 'Well,' I said to her. And she rcw 
plied quite calmlv. 



302 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



" *My dear, 1 could not come, I was 

hindered.' 

** 'How?' 

*• 'By something else/ 

*• 'What was it?' 

" 'A very annoying visit.* 

*'I saw she would not tell me the 
true reason, anc as she was very calm, 
I did not trouMe myself any more about 
it, hoping to mak^ up for lost time with 
the other next day. On the Tuesday I 
was very excited and amorous in expec- 
tation of the public official's little wife, 
and I was surprised that she did not 
come before the appointed time. I 
looked at the clock every moment, and 
watched the hands impatiently, but the 
quarter parsed, then the half hour, then 
two o'clock. I could not sit still any 
longer, and walked up and down very 
soon in great strides, putting my face 
against the window, and my ears to 
the door, to listen whether she was not 
coming upstairs. 

"Half past two, three o'clock! I 
seized my hat, rushed to her house. She 
was reading a novel, my dear fellow! 
'Well!' I said anxiously, and she replied 
as calmly as usual: 

" 1 was hindered, and could not 
come.' 

" 'By what?' 

" 'An annoying visit.* 

"Of course I immediately thought 
that they both knew everything, but 
she seemed so calm and quiet that I set 
aside my suspicions, and thought it was 
only some strange coincidence, as I 
jould not believe in such dissimulation 
on her part. And so, after half-an- 
hour's friendly talk, which was, however, 
interrupted a dozen times by her little 
!<irl coming in and out of the room, I 



went away very n\uch annoyed. Just 
imagine the next day." 

"The same thing happened?" 

"Yes, and the next also. And that 
went on for three weeks without any 
explanation, without anything explaining 
such strange conduct to me, the secret 
of which I suspected, however." 

"They knew everything?" 

"I should think so, by George. But 
how? Ah! I had a great deal of anx- 
iety before I found it out." 

"How did you manage it at last?" 

"From their letters, for on the same 
day they both gave me their dismissal 
in identical terms." 

"Well?" 

"This is how it wfis: You know that 
women always have an array of pins 
about them. I knciv hairpins, I doubt 
them, and look after them, but the 
others are much more treacherous, those 
confounded little black-headed pins 
which look all alike to us, great fools 
that we are, but which they can distin- 
guish, just as we can distinguish a 
horse from a dog. 

"Wei!, it appears that one day my 
official's little wife left one of those 
telltale instruments pinned to the paper, 
close to my looking-glass. My usual one 
had immediately seen this little black 
speck, no bigger than a flea, had taken 
it out without saying a word and had 
left one of her pins, which was also 
black, but of a different pattern, in the 
same place. 

"The next day, the official's wife 
wished to recover her property, and im- 
mediately recognized the substitution. 
Then her suspicions were aroused, and 
she put in two and crossed them. My 
original one replied to this telegraphic 



HOW HE GOT THE LEGION OF HONOR 



303 



signal by three black pellets, one on the 
top 01 the other, and as soon as this 
method had begun, they continued to 
communicate with one another, without 
saying a word, just to spy on each other. 
Then it appears that the regular one, 
being bolder, wrapped a tiny piece of 
paper round the little wire point, and 
wrote upon it: 

"*C. D., Poste Rcstante, Boulevard 
Alalherbes/ 

"Then they wrote to each other. You 
understand that was not everything that 
passed between them. They set to 
work with precaution, with a thousand 
stratagems, with all the prudence that 
is necessary in such cases, but the regu- 
lar one made a bold stroke, and made 
&n appointment with the other. I do not 



know what they said to each other, all 
that I know is that I had to pay the 
costs of their interview. There you 
have it all!" 

"Is that all?" 

"Yes." 

"And you do not see them any more?*' 

"I beg your pardon, I see them as 
friends, for we have not quarreled alto- 
gether." 

"And have they met again?" 

"Yes, my dear fellow, they have be- 
come intimate friends." 

"And has not that given you ax^ 
idea?" 

"No, what idea?" 

"You great booby! The idea of mak- 
ing them put back the pins where they 
found them.*** 



How He Got the Legion of Honor 



Some people are born with a predom- 
inant instinct, with some vocation or 
some desire which demands recognition 
as soon as they begin to speak or to 
think. 

Ever since he was a child Monsif»ur 
Caillard had only had one idea in his 
head — to be decorated. When he was 
still quite a small boy he used to wear 
a zinc Cross of the Legion of Honor in 
his tunic, just like other children wear 
a soldier's cap, and he vook his mother's 
hand in the street with a proud look, 
sticking out his little chest with its red 
ribbon and metal star so that it might 
show to advantage, 
r Kis studies were not a succe.«s, and 



he failed in his examination for Bache* 
lor of Arts so, not knowing what to do, 
he marrieA a pretty girl, for he had 
plenty of money of his own. 

They *ived in Paris, like many rich 
middle-class people do, mixing with 
their own particular set, without going 
amont other people, proud of knowing a 
Deputy, who might perhaps be a Min- 
ister some day, while two Chiefs of Di- 
vision were among their friends. 

But Monsieur Caillard could not get 
rid of his one absorbing idea, and he 
felt constantly unhappy because he had 
not the right to wear a little bit ol 
colored ribbon in his buttonhole. 

When he met anv men who were 



io4 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



decorated on the Boulevards, he looked 
at them askance, with intense jealousy. 
Sometimes, when he had nothing to do 
in the afternoon, he would count them, 
and say to himself: "Just let me see 
how many I shall meet between the 
Madeleine and the Rue Drouot." 

Then he would walk slowly, looking 
at every coat, with a practiced eye, 
for the little bit of red ribbon, and 
when he had got to the end of his walk 
he always said the numbers oui loud. 
"Eight officers and seventeen krnghts. 
As many as that! It is stupid to sow 
the Cross broadcast in that fashion. I 
wonder how many I shall meet going 
back?" 

And he returned slowly, unhappy 
when the crowd of passers-by inter- 
fered with his seeing them. 

He knew the places where most of 
them were to be found. They swarmed 
in the Palais Royal. Fewer were seen 
in the Avenue de TOpera than in the 
Rue de la Paix, while the right side of 
the Boulevard was more frequented by 
them than the left. 

They also seemed to prefer certain 
cafes and theaters. Whenever he saw 
a group of white-haired old gentlemen 
standing together in the middle of the 
pavement, interfering with the traffic, 
he used to say to himself: "They are 
officers of the Legion of Honor," and 
he felt inclined to take off his hat to 
them. 

He had often remarked that the of- 
ficers had a different bearing from 
mere knights. They carried their 
heads higher, and you felt that they 
enjoyed greater official consideration, 
\nd a more widely-extended impor- 
Cance. 



Somtimes again the worthy man 
would be seized with a furious hatred 
for everyone who was decorated; he 
felt like a Socialist toward them. Then, 
when he got home, excited at meeting 
so many Crosses, — just like a poor 
hungry wretch is on passing some 
dainty provision-shop, — ^he used to ask 
in a loud voice: 

"When shall we get rid of this 
wretched government?" And his wife 
would be surprised, and ask: 

"What is the matter with you to- 
day?'* 

"I am indignant," he would reply, 
"at the injustice I see going on around 
us. Oh! the Communards were cer- 
tainly right!" 

After dinner he would go out again 
and look at the shops where all the 
decorations were sold, and examine all 
the emblems of various shapes and col- 
ors. He would have liked to possess 
them all, and to have walked gravely at 
the head of a procession with his 
crush-hat under his arm and his breast 
covered with decorations, radiant as a 
star, amid a buzz of admiring whis- 
pers and a hum of respect. But, alas! 
he had no right to wear any decoration 
whatever. 

He used to say to himself: "It is 
really too difficult for any man to ob- 
tain the Legion of Honor unless he is 
some public functionary. Suppose I 
try to get appointed an officer of the 
Academy!" 

But he did not know how to set about 
it, and spoke to his wife on the sub- 
ject, who was stupefied. 

"Officer of the Academy! What ha\e 
you done to deserve it?" 

He got angry. "I know what I am 



HOW HE GOT THE LEGION OF HONOk 



305 



talking about; T only want to know 
how to set about it. You are quite stu- 
pid at times." 

She smiled. "You are quite right; I 
don't understand anything about it." 

An idea struck him: "Suppose you 
were to speak to M. Rosselin, the Dep- 
uty, he might be able to advise me. 
You understand I cannot broach the 
subject to him directly. It is rather 
difficult and delicate, but coming from 
you it might seem quite natural." 

Mme. Caillard did what he asked her, 
and M. Rosselm promised to speak to 
the Minister about it. Then Caillard 
began to worry him, till the Deputy told 
him he must make a formal applica- 
tion and put forward his claims. 

"What were his claims?" he said. 
"He was not even a Bachelor of 
Arts." 

However, he set to work and pro- 
duced a pamphlet, with the title, "The 
People's Right to Instruction," but he 
could not finish it for want of ideas. 

He sought for easier subjects, and be- 
gan several in succession. The first 
was, "The Instruction of Children by 
Means of the Eye." He wanted gratui- 
tous theaters to be established in every 
poor quarter of Paris for little chil- 
dren. Their parents were to take them 
there when they were quite young, and 
■by means of a magic-lantern, all the no- 
tions of human kno^vledge were to be 
imparted to them. There were to be 
regular courses. The sight would edu- 
cate the mind, while the pictures would 
remain impressed on the brain, and thus 
science would, so to say, be made vis- 
ible. What could be more simple than 
to teach universal history, natural his- 



tory, geography, botany, zoology, anat- 
omy, etc., etc., thus? 

He had his ideas printed in tract 
form, and sent a copy to each Deputy, 
ten to each Minister, fifty to the Presi- 
dent of the Republic, ten to each Paris- 
ian, and five to each provincial news- 
paper. 

Then he wrote on "Street Lending- 
Libraries." His idea was to have little 
carts full of books drawn about the 
streets, like orange-carts are. Every 
householder or lodger would have a 
right to ten volumes a month by means 
of a half-penny subscription. 

*The people," M. Caillard said, "will 
only disturb itself for the sake of its 
pleasures, and since it will not go to 
instruction, instruction must come to 
it," etc., etc. 

His essays attracted no attention, but 
he sent in his application, and iie got 
the usual formal official reply. He 
thought himself sure of success, but 
nothing came of it. 

Then he made up his mind to apply 
personally. He begged for an inter- 
view with the Minister of Public In- 
struction, and he v/as received by a 
young subordinate, already very grave 
and important, who kept touching the 
buttons of electric-bells to summon 
ushers, and footmen, and officials in- 
ferior to himself. He declared to 
M. Caillard that his matter was go- 
ing on quite favorably, and advised him 
to continue his remarkable labors. So 
M. Caillard set at it again. 

M. Rosselin, the Deputy, seemed 
now to take a rrea"- interest in his suc- 
cess, and gave him a lot cf excellent, 
practical advice. Rosselin was deco- 
rated, although nobody knew exactly 



•C6 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



what he had done to deserve such a 
distinction. 

He told Caillard what new studies he 
ought to undertake; he introduced him 
to learned Societies which took up par- 
ticularly obscure points of science, in 
the hope of gaining credit and honors 
thereby; and he even took him under 
his wing at the Ministry. 

One day, when he came to lunch with 
his friend (for several months past he 
had constantly taken his meals there), 
he said to him in a whisper as he shook 
hands: "I have just obtained a great 
favor for you. The Committee on His- 
torical Works is going to intrust you 
with a commission. There are some 
researches to be maae in various libra- 
ries in F'-ance." 

Caillard was so delighted that he 
could scarcely eat or drink, and a week 
later he set out. He went from town 
to town, studying catalogues, rummag- 
ing in lofts full of dusty volumes, and 
was a bore to all the librarians. 

One day, happening to be at Rouen, 
he thought he should like to embrace 
his wife, whom he had not seen for 
more than a week, so he took the nine 
o'clock train, which would land him at 
home by twelve at night. 

He had his latchkey, so he went in 
without making any noise, delighted at 
the idea of the surprise he was going 
to give her. She had locked herself in. 
How tiresome! However, he cried out 
through the door: 

"Jeanne, it is I." 

She must have been very frightened, 
for he heard her jump out of bed and 
speak to herself, as if she were in a 
dream. Then she went to her dressing- 
room, opened and closed the door, and 



went quickly up and down her room 
barefoot two or three times, shaking the 
furniture till the vases and glasses 
sounded. Then at last she asked: 

*'Is it you, Alexander?" 

"Yes, yes," he replied; "make haste 
and open the door." 

As soon as sh^ had done so she threw 
herself into his arms, exclaiming: 

"Oh! what a fright! What a sur- 
prise! What a pleasure!" 

He began to undress himself method- 
ically, like he did everything, and from 
a chair he took his overcoat, which he 
v/as in the habit of hanging up in the 
hall. Cut, suddenly, he remained mo- 
tionless, struck dumb wi*h astonish- 
ment — there was a red ribbon in the 
buttonhole! 

"Why," he stammered, "this— this— 
th's overcoat has got the rose'te in it!*' 

In a second his wife threw herself on 
him, and, taking it from his hands, sht 
said: 

"No! you have made a mistake — 
give it to me.'* 

But he still held it by one of tht 
sleeves, wi'hout letting it go, repeating, 
in a half-dazed manner: 

"Oh! Why? Just explain. Whose 
overcoat is it? It is not mine, as it 
has the Legion of Honor on it.'* 

She tried to take it from him, terri- 
fied, and hardly able to say: 

"Listen — listen — give it me — I must 
not tell you — it is a secret — listen to 
me." 

But he grew angry, and turned pale: 
"I want to know how this overcoat .1 

comes to be here? It does noi belong ' 

to me.** 

Then she almost screamed at him- 



A CRISIS 



30? 



**Yes it does; listen — sv/ear to me — 
well — ^you are decorated." 

She did not intend to joke at his 
expense. 

He was so overcome that he let the 
overcoat fall, and dropped into an 
armchair. 

"I am — ^you say I am — decorated?" 

*'Yes, but it is a secret, a great se- 
cret." 

She had put the glorious garment into 
a cupboard, and came to her husband 
pale and trembling. 

"Yes," she continued, *'it is a new 
overcoat that I have had made for you. 
But I swore that I would not tell you 
anything about it, as it will not be offi- 
cially announced for a month cr six 
p/eeks, and you were not to have known 



till your return from your business 
journey. M. Rosselin managed it lor 
you." 

"Rosselin!" he contrived to utter in 
his joy; "he has obtained the decora- 
tion for me? He— Oh!" 

And he was obliged to drink a glass 
of water. 

A little piece of white paper had 
fallen to the floor out of the pocket of 
the overcoat. Caillard picked it up; it 
was a visiting-card, and he read out: 

"Rosselin — Deputy." 

"You see how it is," said his wife. 

He almost cried with joy, and. a week 
later, it was announced in the "Journal 
Officiel" that M. Caillard had been 
awarded the Legion of Honor on ac- 
count of his exceptional services. 



A Crisis 



A BIG fire was burning and the tea- 
labJe was set for two. The Count de 
Sallure threw his hat, gloves, and fur 
coat on a chair, while the Countess, who 
had removed her opera-cloak, was 
smiling amiably at herself in the glass 
and arranging a few stray curls with 
her jeweled fingers. Her husband had 
been looking at her for the past few 
minutes, as if on the point of saying 
something, but hesitating; finally he 
said: 

"You have flirted outrageously to- 
night!" She looked him straight in the 
eyes, with an expression of triumph and 
defiance on her face. 

"Why, C'^rlainly," she answered. She 
sat down, pnured out the tea and hec 



husband took his seat opposite her. 

"It made me look quite — ridiculous!" 

"Is this a scene?" she asked, arching 
her brows. "Do you mean to criticise 
my conduct?" 

"Oh, no, I only meant to say that 
M. Burel's attentions to you were posi- 
tively improper and if I had the right — 
I — would not tolerate it." 

"Why, my dear boy, what has come 
over you? You must have changed 
your views since last year. You did not 
seem to mind who courted me and who 
did not a year ago. When I found out 
that you had a mistress, a mistress 
whom you loved passionately, T pointed 
out to you then, as you did me to-nigh*, 
(but I had good reasons), that you 



308 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



were compromising yourself and Mrae. 
de Servy, that your conduct grieved 
me, and made me look ridiculous, what 
did you answer me? That I was per- 
fectly free, that marriage between two 
intelligent people was simply a partner- 
ship, a sort of social bond, but not a 
moral bond. Is it not true? You gave 
me to understand that your mistress 
was far more captivating than I, that 
she was more womanly; that k what 
you said: 'more womanly.' Of course, 
you said all this in a very nice way 
and I acknowledge that you did your 
very best to spare my feelings, for 
which I am very grateful to you, I as- 
sure you; but I understand perfectly 
what you meant. 

"We then decided to live practically 
separated; that is, under the same roof, 
but apart from each other. We had a 
child, and it was necessary to keep up 
appearances before the world, but you 
intimated that if I chose to take a lover 
you would not object in the least, pro- 
viding it was kept secret. You even 
made a long and very interesting dis- 
course on the cleverness of women in 
such cases ; how well they could manage 
such things, etc., etc. I understood per- 
fectly, my dear boy. You loved Mme. 
de Servy very much at that time and 
my conjugal — ^legal — affection was an 
impediment to your happiness ; but since 
then, we have lived on the very best 
of terms. We go out in society to- 
gether, it is true, but here in our own 
house we are complete strangers. Now, 
for the past month or two, you act as 
if you were jealous, and I do not under- 
stand it/' 

"I am not jealous, my dear, but you 
are so young:, so impulsive, that I am 



afraid you will expose yourself to the 
world's criticisms." 

"You make me laugh! Your con- 
duct would not bear a very close scru' 
tiny. You had better not preach what 
you do not practice." 

"Do not laugh, I pray. This is no 
laughing matter. I am speaking as a 
friend, a true friend. As to your re* 
marks, they are very much exagger- 
ated." 

"Not at all. When you confessed to 
me your infatuation for Mme. de Servy, 
I took it for granted that you author- 
ized me to imitate you. I have not 
done so — " 

"Allow me to — ■" 

"Do not interrupt me. I have not 
done so. I have no lover — as yet. I 
am looking for one, but I have not 
found one to suit me. He must be very 
nice — nicer than you are — that is a 
compliment, but you do not seem to 
appreciate it." 

"This joking is entirely uncalled for." 

"I am not joking at all; I am in dead 
earnest. I have not forgotten a single 
word of what you said to me a year 
ago and when it pleases me to do so, no 
mattei' what you may say or do, I shall 
take a lover. I shall do it without your 
even suspecting it — ^you will be none 
the wiser — like a great many others." 

"How can you say such things!" 

"How can I say such things? But, 
my dear boy, you were the first one to 
laugh when Mme. de Gers joked about 
poor, unsuspecting M. de Servy." 

"That might be, but it is not becom- 
ing language for you." 

"ladeed! You thought it a good 
joke when it concerned M. de Servy, 
but you do not find it so aDoropriate 



A CRISIS 



309 



when it concerns you. What a queer 
lot men are! However, I am not fond 
of talking about such things; I simply 
mentioned it to see if you were ready." 

"Ready— for what?" 

"Ready to be deceived. When a man 
gets angry on hearing such things he is 
lOt quite ready. I wager that in two 
months you will be the first one to 
laugh if I mention a deceived husband 
to you. It is generally the case when 
you are the deceived one." 

"Upon my word you are positively 
rude to-night; I have never seen you 
that way." 

"Yes — I have changed — for the 
worse, but it is your fault." 

"Come, my dear, let us talk seriously. 
I beg of you, I implore you not to let 
M. Burel court you as he did to-night." 

"You are jealous; I knew it." 
' "No, no; but I do not wish to be 
looked upon with ridicule, and if I catch 
that man devouring you with his eyes, 
like he did to-night — I — I will thrash 
him!" 

"Could it be possible that you are in 
love with me?" 

"Why not? I am sure I could do 
much worse." 

"Thanks. I am sorry for you — ^be 
cause I do not love you any more." 

The Count gets up, walks around the 
tea-table, and going behind his wife, he 
kisses her quickly on the neck. She 
springs up and with flashing eyes says: 

"How dare you do that? Remember, 
we are absolutely nothing to each other; 
we are complete strangers." 

"Please do not get angry, I could not 
help it; you look so lovely to-night." 

"Then I must have improved won- 
derfullv." 



"You look positively charming; your 
arms and shoulders are beautiful and 
your skin — " 

"Would captivate M. Burel — " 

"How mean you are! — but really, I 
do not recall ever having seen a woman 
as captivating as you are." 

"You must have been fasting lately." 

"What's that?" 

"I say, you must have been fasting 
lately." 

"Why — what do you mean?" 

"I mean just what I say. You must 
have fasted for some time and now 
you are famished. A hungry man will 
cat things which he will not eat at any 
other time. I am the neglected — dish, 
which you would not mind eating to- 
night." 

"Marguerite! Who ever taught you 
to say those things?" 

"You did. To my knowledge, you 
have had four mistresses. Actresses, 
society women, gay women, etc., so how 
can I explain your sudden fancy for me, 
except by your long fast?" 

"You will think me rude, brutal, but 
I have fallen in love with you for the 
second time. I love you madly!" 

"Weil, well! Then you— wish to—" 

"Exactly." 

"To-night?" 

''Oh, Marguerite!*' 

*There, you are scandalized again. 
My dear boy, let us talk quietly. We 
are strangers, are we not? I am your 
wife, it is true, but I am — free. I in- 
tended to engage my affection elsewhere, 
but I will give you the preference; pro- 
viding — I re.eive the same compensa- 
tion." 

"I do not understand you; what do 
you mean?" 



3!0 



VvORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



"I Will speak more clearly. Am I as 
good-looking as your mistresses?" 

"A thousand times better." 

"Better than the nicest one?" 

"Yesi, a thousand times." 

■'How much did she cost you in three 
months?" 

'Really — what on earth do you 
mean?" 

'I mean, how much did you spend on 
the costliest of your mistresses, in jew- 
elry, carriages, suppers, etc., in three 
months?" 

"How do I know!" 

"You ought to know. Let us say for 
instance, fivp thousand francs a month 
— is that aoout right?" 

"Yes— about that." 

"Well, my dear boy. give me five 
thousand francs and I will be yours for 
a month, beginning from to-night." 

"Marguerite! Are you crazy?" 

"No, I am not; but just as you say. 
Good night!" 

The Countess entered her boudoir. 
A vague perfume permeated the whole 
room. The Count appeared in the door- 
way: 

"How lovely it smells in here!" 

"Do you think so? I always use 
Peau d'Espagne; I never use any other 
oerfume." 

"Really? I did not notice — it is 
lovely." 

"Possibly, but be kind enough to go; 
[ want to go to bed." 

"Marguerite!" 

"Will you please p'o?" 

The Count came in and sat on a chair. 

Said the Countess: "You will not 
go? Verv well." 

She slr«\vly takes off her waist, re- 
vealing her white arms and neck, then 



she lifts her arms above her head to 
loosen her hair. 

The Count took a step toward her. 

The Countess: "Do not come near 
me or I shall get real angry, do you 
hear?" 

He caught her in his arms and tried 
to kiss her. She quickly took a tum- 
bler of perfumed water standing on the 
toilette-table and dashed it into his face. 

He was terribly angry. He stepped 
Dack a few paces and murmured: 

'How stupid of you!" 

■ Perhaps — but you know my condi- 
tions — five thousand francs!" 

"Preposterous!" 

"Why, pray?" 

"Why? Because — ^who ever heard of 
a man paying his wife!" 

"Oh! — hew horribly rude you are!" 

"I suppose I am rude, but I repeat, 
(he idea of paying one's wife is pre- 
posterous! Positively stupid!" 

"la it not much worse to pay a gay 
woman? It certainly would be stupid 
when you have a wife at home." 

"That may be, but I do not wish to 
be ridiculous." 

The Countess sat down on the bed 
and took off her stockings, revealing her 
bare, pink feet. 

The Count approached a little nearer 
and said tenderly: 

"What an odd idea of yours, Mar- 
guerite ! " 

"What idea?" 

"To ask me for five thousand 
francs!" 

"Odd? Why should it be odd? Are 
we not strangers? You say you are in 
love with me; all well and good. You 
cannot marry me, as I am already your 
wife, so you buy me. Mon dieu! have 



GRAVEYARD SIRENJ 



oil 



you not bought other women? Is it 
not much better to give me that money 
than to a strange woman who would 
squander it? Come, you will acknowl- 
edge that it is a novel idea to actually 
pay your own wife ! An intelligent man 
like you ought to see how amusing it 
is; besides, a man never really loves 
anything unless it costs him a lot of 
money. It would add new zest to our — 
conjugal love, by comparing it with 
your — illegitimate love. Am I not 
right?'^ 

She goes toward the bell. 

"Now then, sir, if you do not go I 
will ring for my maid!" 



The Count stands perplexed, dis- 
pleased, and suddenly, taking a handful 
of bank-notes out of his pocket, he 
throws them at his wife saying: 

"Here are six thousand, you witch, 
but remember — " 

The Countess picked up the money, 
counted it, and said: 

''What?" 

"You must not get used to it." 

She burst out laughing and said to 
him: 

"Five thousand francs each month, 
or else I shall send you back to your 
actresses, and if you are pleased vnih 
me — I shall ask for more." 



Graveyard Sirens 



The five friends had fmished their 
dinner; there were two bachelors and 
three married men, all middle-aged and 
wealthy. They assembled thus once a 
month, in memory of old times, and 
lingered to gossip over their coffee till 
late at night. Many a happy evening 
was spent in this way, for they were 
fond of one another's society, and had 
remained closely united. Conversation 
among them was a sort of review of the 
daily papers, commenting on everything 
that interests and amuses Parisians. 
One of the cleverest, Joseph de Bardon, 
was a bachelor. He lived the life of a 
boulevardier most thoroughly and fan- 
tastically, without bemg debauched or 
depraved. It interested him, and as ho 
was still young, being barely forty, he 
enjoyed it keenly, b' man of the world 
Id the broadest and best sense of the 



word, he possessed a greai deal of wit 
without much depth, a general knowl- 
edge without real learning, quick per- 
ception without serious penetration; 
but his adventures and observations fur* 
r.ished him many amusing stories, which 
h? told with so much philosophy and 
humor that society voted him very in- 
tellectual. 

He was a favorite after-dinner 
speaker, always having some story to 
relate to which his friends looked for- 
ward. Presently he began to tell a 
story without being asked. Leaning on 
the table with a half-filled glass of 
brandy in front of his plate, in the 
smoky atmosphere filled with the fra- 
grance of coffee, he seemed perfectly 
at ease, just as some beings are entirely 
at home in certain places and under 
certain conditions — as a goldfish in its 



312 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



aquarium, for instance, or a nun in her 
cloister. 

Puffing at his cigar, he said: 

"A rather curious thing happened to 
me a little while ago." 

All exclaimed at once: "Tell us 
about it!" 

Presently he continued: 

"You all know how I love to roam 
around the city, like a collector in search 
of antiquities. I enjoy watching people 
and things. About the middle of Sep- 
tember, the weather being very fine, I 
went for a walk one afternoon, without 
a definite purpose. Why do we men 
always have the vague impulse to call 
on some pretty woman? W'e review 
them in our mind, compare their re- 
spective charms, the interest they 
arouse in us, and finally decide in favor 
of the one that attracts us most. 

"But when the sun shines brightly 
and the air is balmy, sometimes we al- 
together lose the desire for calling. 

'That day the sun was bright and 
the air balmy, so I simply lighted a 
cigar and started for the Boulevard Ex- 
terieur. As I was sauntering along, I 
thought I would take a look around 
the cemetery at Montmartre. Now, I 
have always liked cemeteries because 
they sadden and rest me; and I need 
that influence at times. Besides, many 
of my friends are laid to rest there, and 
I go to see them once in a while. 

"As it happens, I once buried a ro- 
mance in this particular cemetery, — an 
old love of mine, a charming little 
woman whose memory awakens all 
kinds of regrets in me — ^I often dream 
beside her grave. All is over for her 
Tiow! 

**I like CTaveyards because they are 



such immense, densely populated cities. 
Just think of all the bodies buried in 
that small space, of the countless gener- 
ations of Parisians laid there forever, 
eternally entombed in the little vault? 
of their little graves m.arked by a cros? 
or a stone, while the living — fools that 
they are! — take up so much room and 
make such a fuss. 

"Cemeteries have some monuments 
quite as interesting as those to be seen 
in the museums. Cavaignac's tomb I 
liken, without comparing it, to that 
masterpiece of Jean Gonjon, the tomb- 
stone of Louis de Breze in the subter- 
ranean chapel in the cathedral of 
Rouen. My friends, all so-called mod- 
em and realistic art originated there. 
That reproduction of Louis de Breze is 
more life-like and terrible, more con- 
vulsed with agony, than any one of the 
statues that decorate modern tombs. 

"In Montmartre is Baudin's monu- 
ment, and it is quite imposing; also the 
tombs of Gautier and Miirger, where 
the other day I found a solitary wreath 
of yellow immortelles, laid there — ^by 
whom do you suppose? Perhaps by 
the last grisette, grown old, and pos- 
sibly become a janitress in the neigh- 
borhood! It's a pretty little statue by 
Millet, but it is ruined by neglect and 
accumulated filth. Sing of youth, O 
Miirger! 

"Well, I entered the cemetery, filled 
with a certain sadness, not too poignant, 
a feeling suggesting such thoughts as 
this: The place is not very cheerful, 
but I'm not to be put here yet. 

"The impression of autumn, a warm 
dampness smelling of dead leaves, the 
pale, ansemic rays of the sun, intensified 
and poetized the solitude of this place» 



GRAVEYARD SIRENS 



3X5 



which reminds one of death and of the 
end of all things. 

**I walked slowly along the alleys of 
graves where neighbors no longer visit, 
no longer sleep together, nor read the 
papers. I began reading the epitaphs. 
There is nothing more amusing in the 
world. Labiche and Meilhac have never 
made me laugh as much as some of these 
tombstone inscriptions. I tell you these 
crosses and marble slabs on which the 
relatives of the dead have poured out 
tbeir regrets and their v/ishes for the 
happiness of the departed, their hopes 
of reunion — the hypocrites! — ^make bet- 
ter reading than Balzac's funniest tales! 
But what I love in Montmartre are the 
abandoned plots filled with yewtrees and 
cypress, the resting-place of those de- 
parted long ago. However, the green 
trees no-jrished by the bodies will soon 
be felled to make room for those that 
have recently passed away, whose graves 
will be there, under little marble slabs. 

"After loitering awhile, I felt tired, 
and decided to pay my faithful tribute 
to my little friend's memory. When I 
reached the grave, my heart was very 
sad. Poor child! she was so sweet and 
loving, so fair and white — and now — 
should her grave be reopened — 

"Bending over the iron railing I mur- 
mured a prayer, which she probably 
never heard, and I turned to leave, 
when I caught sight of a woman in deep 
mourning kneeling beside a neighboring 
grave. Her crape veil was thrown back, 
disclosing her blond hair, which seemed 
illumined under the darkness of her hat. 
I forgot to leave. 

"She seemed bowed with sorrow. She 
had buried her face in her hands, ap- 
parently lost in deep thought. With 



closed lids, as rigid as a statue, she was 
living over torturing memories and 
seemed herself a corpse mourning a 
corpse. Presently I saw that she was 
weeping, as there was a convulsive 
movement of her back and shoulders. 
Suddenly she uncovered her face. Her 
eyes, brimming with tears, were charm- 
ing. For a mom.ent she gazed around 
as if awakening from a nightmare. She 
saw me looking at her and quickly hid 
her face again, greatly abashed. Now, 
with convulsive sobs she bent her head 
slowly over the tombstone. She rested 
her forehead against it, and her veil, 
faUing around her, covered the white- 
ness of the beloved sepulcher with a 
dark shroud. I heard her moan and 
then saw her fall to the ground in a 
faint. 

"I rushed to her side and began slap- 
ping her hands and breathing on her 
temples, while reading this simple in- 
scription on the tombstone: 

" 'Here lies Louis-Theodore Carrel, 
Captain in the Marine Infantry, killed by 
the enemy in Tonkin. Pray for his soul.' 

"This death was quite recent. I was 
moved almost to tears, and renewed my 
efforts to revive the poor girl. At last 
she came to. I am not so very bad- 
looking, and my face must have shown 
how upset I was, for her very first 
glance showed me that she was likely to 
be grateful for my care. Between sobs 
she told me of her marriage to the of- 
ficer who had been killed in Tonkin 
within a year after their v:edding. He 
had married her for love, she being an 
orphan and possessing nothing above 
the required dowry. 



314 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



"T consuled her, comforted her, and 
assisted her to her feet, saying: 

" 'You must not stay here. Come 
away.* 

" 'I am unable to walk/ she whis- 
pered. 

" 'Let me help you,' I said. 

'* 'Thank you, you are very kind,' she 
murmured. 'Did you also come to 
mourn some one?' 

'"Yes, Madame/ 

" 'A woman?' 

" 'Yes, Madame.' 

'• 'Your wife?' 

"'A friend.* 

" 'One may love a friend ji!st as 
much as a wife, for passion knows no 
law,' said the lady. 

" 'Yes, ^ladame,' I replied. 

"And so we left the spot together, she 
leaning on me and I almost carrying her 
through the alleys. As we came out, 
she murmured: 

" I'm afraid that I'm going to faint.' 

" 'Wouldn't you like to take some- 
thing, Madame?' I inquired. 

" 'Yes,' she said, 1 would.' 

"I discovered a restaurant near at 
hand, where tho friends of the dead 
gather to celebrate the end of their 
painful duty. We went in, and I made 
her drink a cup of hot tea, which ap- 
pearea to give her renewed strength. 

"A faint smile dawned on her lips 
and she began telling me about herself: 
how terrible it was to go through life 
all alone, to be alone at home day and 
night, to hnve no one on whom to lavish 
love, confidence, and intimacy. 

"It all sermed sincere and sounded 
well cominsr from her. I wa?> softened. 
She was very young, perhaps twenty. 
I paid her several compliments that ap- 



peared to please her, and as it was grow- 
ing dark I offered to take her home ia 
a cab. She accepted. In the carriage 
we were so close to each other tha^ 
v;e could feel the warmth of our bodies 
through our clothing, which really is 
the most intoxicating thing in the 
v/orld. 

"When the cab stopped in front of 
her home she said: 

" 'I hardly feel able to walk upstairs, 
for I live on the fourth floor. You have 
already been so kind, that I am going 
to ask you to assist me to my rooms.' 

"I consented gladly. She walked up 
slowly, breathing heavily at each step. 
In iront of her door she added: 

" 'Do come in for a few minutes, so 
that I can thank you again for your 
kindness.' 

"And I, of course, followed her. 

"Her apartment "«vas modest, even a 
trifle poor, but well-kept and in good 
taste. 

"We sat down side by side on a small 
divan, and she again began to speak of 
her loneliness. 

"Then she rang fcr the maid, so as 
to cffcr me some refreshments. But 
the girl failed to appear, and I joyfully 
concluded that this maid probably came 
only in the morning, and was a sort of 
ccrub-woman. 

"She had taken off her hat. How 
pretty she was! Her clear eyes looked 
steadily at me, so clear and so steady 
that a great temptation came to me, to 
which I promptly ^Melded. Clasping her 
in my arms, I kissed her again and 
again on her half-closed lids. 

"She repelled me, struggling to free 
herself and repeating: 

" 'Do stop— do end it—* 



GRAVEYARD SIRENS 



31> 



"What did she mean to imply by this 
word? Under such conditions, to 'end' 
could have at least two meanings. In 
order to silence her, I passed from her 
eyes to her lips, and gave to the word 
'end' the conclusion I preferred. She 
did not resist Vcry much, and as our 
eyes met after this insult to the memory 
of the departed captain, I saw that her 
expression was one of tender resignation, 
which quickly dispelled my misgivings. 

"Then I grew attentive and gallant. 
After an hour's chat I asked her: 

" 'Where do you dine?* 

** *In a small restaurant near by.' 

"'All alone?' 

" 'Why, yes.* 

" 'Will you take dinner "with me?* 

" 'Where?" 

" 'In a good restaurant on the Boule- 
vard.* 

"She hesitated a little, but at last 
consented, consoling herself with the 
argument that she was so desperately 
lonely, and adding, 'I must put on a 
lighter gown.* 

"She retired to her room, and when 
she emerged she was dressed in a sim- 
ple gray frock that made her look ex- 
quisitely slender. She apparently had 
different costumes for street and for 
cemetery wear! 

"Our dinner was most pleasant and 
cordial. She drank some champagne, 
thereby becoming very animated and 
lively, and we returned to her apart- 
ment together. 

"This liaisofty begun among tomb- 
stones, lasted about three weeks. But 
man tires of everything and especially 
of women. So I pleaded an urgent trip 
and left her. Of course, I managed to 
be generous, for which she was duly 



thankful, makin^^; rn.-t r.'j.;Mse and even 
swear that I would come back, for she 
really seemed to care a little for me. 

"In the meantime I formed other at- 
tachments, and a month or so went by 
without the memory of this love being 
vivid enough to bring me back to her. 
Still, I had not forgotten her. She 
haunted me like a mystery, a psycho- 
log'cal problem, an unsclved question. 

"I can't tell why, but one day I im- 
agined that I should find her in the 
cemetery. So I went back. I walked 
around a long time without meeting any- 
one but the usual visitors of the place, 
mourners who had not broken off all 
relations with their dead. The grave 
of the captain killed in Tonkin was de- 
serted, without flowe.s, or wreaths. 

"As I was passing through anotht- 
part of this great ci'.y of Death, I sud- 
denly saw a couple in deep mournin,^ 
coming toward me through one of the 
narrow paths hedged with crosses. 
When they drew near, Oh, surprise! I 
recognized — ^her! She saw ine and 
blushed. As I brushed past her, she 
gave me a little wink that meant clearly: 
Don't recognize me, and also seemed to 
say: Do come back. 

"The man who accompanied her was 
about fifty years old, fine-looking and 
distinguished, an ofiicer of the Legion 
of Honor. He was leading her just as 
I had, when we left the cemetery to- 
gether. 

"I was utterly nonplussed, reluctant 
to believe what my eyes had just seen, 
and I wondered to what strange tribe 
of creatures this graveyard huntress be- 
longed. Was she merely a clever 
courtesan, an inspired prostitute, who 
haunted cemeteries for men disconsolate 



316 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



at the loss of some woman, a mistress 
or a wife, and hungering for past ca- 
resses? Is it a profession? Are the 
cemeteries worked like the streets? Are 
there graveyard sirens? Or had she 



alone the idea — wonderful for its deep 
philosophy — to profit by the amorous 
regrets awakened in these awful places? 
I would have given a great deal to 
know whose widow she was that day!" 



Growing Old 



The two friends had finished dinner. 
From the window of the caje they saw 
the Boulevard full of people. They felt 
the warm zephyrs which prevail in 
Paris on sweet summer nights and make 
travelers raise their heads and desire to 
go out, to go down, one knows not 
where, under the leaves, and dream of 
rivers lighted by the moon, of glow- 
worms, and of nightingales. 

One of them, Henry Simon, sighed 
profoundly and said: 

"Ah! I am getting old. It is sad. 
Formerly on evenings like this I felt 
the devil in my body. Now, I feel only 
regrets. How quickly life goes!" 

He was already a little stout and 
very bald; he was perhaps forty-five 
years old. 

The other, Peter Carnier, was older, 
but thinner and more lively ; he replied : 

"As for me, my friend, I have grown 
old without perceiving it the least in 
the world. I was always gay, a jolly 
fellow, vigorous and all the rest. Now, 
as one looks at himself each day in the 
mirror, he does not perceive the work 
that age is accomplishing, because it is 
slow and regular, and modifies his vis- 
age so gradually that the transition is 
unseen. Only for this we should die of 
chagrin after but two or three years* 



ravages. But we are not able to appre- 
ciate them. In order to take a reckon- 
ing it would be necessary to go six 
months without looking at ourselves; 
and then, what a blow! 

"And the women, my dear, how 1 
pity them, the poor beings. All their 
happiness, all their power, all their life 
is in their beauty, which lasts but ten 
years. 

"I, then, grew old without suspecting 
it; I believed myself a young man, al- 
though I was nearly fifty years old. 
Never having felt an infirmity of any 
sort, T went along happy and tranquil. 

"The revelation of my decadence 
came to me in a simple but terrible 
fashion, which made me downcast for 
nearly six months. Since then I have 
accepted the part. 

"I have often been in love, like all 
men, but once in particular. I met her 
at the seashore at Etretat, about twelve 
years ago, a little after the war. There 
is nothing so pretty as this shore in the 
morning at the bathing hour. It is small, 
rounded like a horseshoe, incased in 
those high, white cliffs, pierced with 
those singular holes they call ports, one 
enormous one, extending into the sea 
like a giant's leg, the other opposite 
squat and round. A crowd of women 



GROWING OLD 



317 



assembles here on the right side of the 
shuffleboard, which they cover like a 
bright garden with their brilliant cos- 
tumes — this box between the high rocks. 
The sun falls full upon the coast, upon 
umbrellas of all shades, upon the sea of 
a greenish blue. And all is gay, charm- 
ing, smiling to the eyes. You seat your- 
self near the water to watch the bathers. 
They descend in a bathrobe of flannel 
which they throw off with a pretty mo- 
tion upon reaching the fringe of the 
foam from the short waves; they go 
into the sea with a little rapid step 
which is arrested sometimes by a deli- 
cious cold shiver, or a slight suffocation. 

"Few can stand this trial of the bath. 
It is there that one can judge them 
from the calf to the throat. The going 
out especially reveals the weak, although 
salt water may be a powerful help to 
flabby flesh. 

'The first time that I saw this young 
woman thus, I was delighted, ravished. 
She held good, she held firm. Then 
there are some faces whose charm enters 
into us suddenly, invades us at a single 
blow. It seemed to me that I had found 
the woman that I was born to love. I 
had that sensation and it was like a 
shock. 

"I had myself presented and was im- 
mediately captured as I never was be- 
fore. She ravaged my heart. It is a 
frightful and delicious thing, the under- 
going thus the domination of a woman. 
It is almost a punishment, and at the 
same time, an unbelievable happiness. 
Her look, her smile, her hair at the nape 
of the neck when the breeze moved it, 
all the little lines of her face, the least 
movement of her features delighted me, 
and made me extremelv fond of her. 



She took possession of me through all 
my being, by her gestures, her attitudes, 
even by the things she carried, which 
became bewitching to me. I would wait 
to see her veil thrown, upon some piece 
of furniture, her gloves upon an arm- 
chair. Her costumes seemed to me in- 
imitable. No one had hats like hers. 

"She was married and the husband, 
came every Saturday to remain until 
Monday. He seemed to me very in- 
different. I was not at all jealous of 
him; I know not why, but never a be- 
ing seemed to have less importance in 
life, or attract less of my attention than 
this man. 

"How I loved her! And how beauti- 
ful she was, and gracious and young! 
She was youth, elegance, and freshness, 
even. Never before had I felt what a 
pretty being a woman is, so distin- 
guished and delicate, so full of charm 
and grace! Never had I understood 
what a seducing beauty there is in the 
curve of her cheek, in the movement 
of her lips, in the round folds of her 
little ear, in the form of that simple 
organ which we call the nose. 

"This lasted three months and then I 
departed for America, my heart bruised 
and full of despair. But the thought 
of her remained in me persistent, tri- 
umphant. She possessed me at a dis- 
stance as she had when I was near her. 

"Some years passed. I had not for- 
gotten her. Her charming im^age re- 
mained before my eyes and in my heart. 
My tenderness remained faithful to her, 
a tranquil tenderness now, something 
like a much-loved memory of the most 
beautiful, most attractive thing I had 
met in life. 



518 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPAS3ANT 



"T'velve years are such a little thing 
in a man s existence! One scarcely feels 
them pass! They go one after aaother 
these years, gently and quickly, slowly 
or hurriediy, each long but so soon 
finished! And they add so rapidly and 
leave so little trace behind them; they 
vanish so completely that in looking 
back over the time passed one cannot 
perceive anything, and cannot compre- 
hend how it is that they have made him 
old. It seemed to me truly, that only a 
few months separated me from that 
charming season on the beach at Etretat. 

''Last spring I went to dine at 
Maisons-Lafitte at the house of some 
friends. Just as the train was starting, 
a large woman got into my car, fol- 
lowed by four little girls. I scarcely 
glanced at this large, round mother, 
with a face like a full moon incased in 
a be-ribboned hat. 

"She breathed heavily, being out of 
breath from a quick walk. The children 
began to babble. I opened my news- 
paper and began to read. 

"We were just passing Asnieres, when 
my neighbor said to me suddenly: 

" 'Pardon me, sir, but are you not 
Mr. Carnicr?' 

" 'Yes, Madame.* 

"Then she began to laugh, the laugh 
of a contented, brave woman, but a 
little sad, nevertheless. 

" 'You do not recognize me?* said 
she. 

"I hesitated. I fully believed that I 
had somewhere seen that face; but 
where? and when? I answered: 

" 'Yes — and no — ^I certainly do recog- 
nize you, but cannot recall your name.* 

"She blushed a little as she said: 
"Mrs. Julie Lefevre.* 



"Never have I received such a blow. 
For a second it seemed to me that all 
was finished for me. I felt that a veil 
had been torn away from before my 
eyes and that I was about to discover 
something frightful and wounding. 

"It was she! That great, gross, com- 
mon woman, she? And she had borne 
these four girls since I had seen her. 
And these four beings astonished me as 
much as the mother herself. They had 
come from her; they were tall already, 
had taken her place in life. She no 
longer counted, she, that marvel of co- 
quettish, refined grace. I had seen her 
yesterday, it seemed to me, and I found 
her again like this! Was it possible? A 
violent grief attacked my heart, and 
also a revolt against Nature, even, an 
unreasonable indignation against her 
brutal work, so infamous and destruc- 
tive. 

"I looked at her aghast. Then I took 
her by the hand, and the tears mounted 
to my eyes. I wept for her young, I 
wept for her dead. For I was not ac- 
quainted with this large lady. 

"She, also affected, stammered: 

" 'I am much changed, am I not? 
What can we expect after so long? Yo'j 
see I have become a mother, nothing 
but a mother, a good mother. Adieu to 
all else, it is finished. Oh! I never 
thought that you would not recognize 
me if we met! And you, too, are 
changed; it took me some time to be 
sure that I was not deceived. You are 
quite gray Think of it. Twelve years! 
twelve years ! My eldest daughter is al- 
ready ten years old.' 

"1 looked at the child. I found in 
her something of the former charm ot 
her mother, but something still unded 



A FRENCH ENOCH ARDEN 



319 



sive, not yet formed, but near at hand. 
And life appeared as rapid to me as a 
train which passes. 

"We arrived at Masions-Lafitte. I 
kissed the hand of my old friend. I 
had found nothing to say to her but the 
most frightful commonplaces. I was 
too upset to talk. 



"That evening, all alune in my room, 
I looked at myself for a long time in my 
glass. And I ended by recalling my- 
self as I was, of looking back in thought 
to my brown mustache and my black 
hair and the physiognomy of my young 
face. Now I was old. Adieu!" 



A French Enoch Arden 



The sea lashes the shore with its short 
and monstrous waves. Little white 
clouds are scudding quickly across the 
great blue sky, swept by a rapid wind, 
like birds; and the village, in the fold 
of the valley which runs down to the 
ocean, lies broiling in the sun. 

Quite at the entrance is the house of 
the Martin-Levesques, alone, at the side 
of the road. It is a little fisherman's 
cottage, with clay walls and a thatched 
roof adorned with blue iris flowers. A 
garden as big as a hai.dkerchief, where 
sprout some onions, a few cabbages, 
some parsley, some chervil, squares it- 
self before the door. A hedge hems it 
in along the roadside. 

The man has gone fishing:, and the wo- 
man, before the lodge, is repairing the 
meshes of a big brown net hung on the 
wall like a great spider's web. A little 
girl of fourteen at the garden entrance, 
seated in a cane chair, leaning backward 
and resting her arm on the fence, is 
mending linen, the linen of the poor, al- 
ready pieced and patched. 

Another small girl, a year younger, is 
rocking in her arms a very little baby, 
yet without gestures or words; and the 



two youngsters of two or three yeai'S 
sitting on the ground are playing gar- 
den with their clumsy hands and throw- 
ing fistfuls of dust in each other's face. 

No one speaks. Only the little rascal 
whom the girl is trying to put to sleep 
cries steadily, with a sharp, weak little 
voice. A cat is sleeping at the window, 
and some blooming gillyflowers make, at 
the foot of the wall, a fine cushion of 
white blossoms, over which flies are 
buzzing. 

The little girl who is sewing near the 
entrance calls suddenly: 

''Mamma." 

"What is the matter with you?" re- 
plied the mother. 

*'There he is again.'* 

She had been uneasy since morning 
because there was a man prowling about 
the house; an old man who seemed to 
be poor. They had observed him as 
they were going with their father to the 
boat to see him embark. He was seated 
on the edge of the ditch opposite their 
gate, and when they came back they 
found him still there, looking at the 
house. 

He seemed ill and very wretched. He 



320 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



had not stirred for more than an hour; 
then, seeing he would be considered a 
malefactor he had risen and departed, 
dragging one leg. 

But soon they had seen him return 
with his slow and weary step; and 
again he had sat down, a little further 
away this time, as if to watch them. 

The mother and daughters were 
afraid. The mother especially because 
she was of a timorous nature, and be- 
cause her husband Levesque was not 
expected to come from the sea until 
nightfall. 

Her husband's name was Levesque, 
hers was Martin, and they were called 
the Martin-Levesques. This is why: 
she had married for her first husband 
a man named Martin, who went to New- 
foundland every summei fishing for cod. 

After two years of married life she 
had a little girl by him, and another 
three months after the craft which car- 
ried her husband, the "Two Sisters," a 
three-masted bark from Dieppe, dis- 
appeared. 

No news was ever received from it; 
none of its crew ever came back; it was 
considered to be a total wreck. 

The Martin woman waited for her 
second husband ten years, bringing up 
her children with great difficulty; then, 
as she was a good, strong woman, a 
fisherman of the neighborhood, Leves- 
que, a widower with a boy, asked her in 
marriage. She married him and had two 
children by him in three years. 

They lived painfully, laboriously. 
Bread was dear, and meat almost un- 
known in the household. They ran in 
debt at times with the baker, in winter, 
during the stormy months. The little 



ones were well, nevertheless. Peopie 
said: 

"They are brave folk, the Martin- 
Levesques. The wife is a hard worker 
and Levesque has not his equal for 
fishing." 

The little girl seated at the gate re- 
peated: "You would think that he 
knew us. Perhaps it is some poor man 
from Eprevllle or from Auzebogo." 

But the mother was not deceived. No, 
no, it wasn't anyone of the country, 
surely! 

As he moved no more than a stake, 
and as he kept his eyes glued to the 
Martin-Levesques' cottage, the woman 
became furious, and fear making her 
brave she seized a shovel and went out 
of the door. 

"What are you doing there?" she called 
to the vagabond. 

He answered in a gruff voice: 

"I am taking the fresh air! Does 
that do you any harm?" 

She replied: 

"Why are you spying like this on 
my house?" 

The man replied: 

"I am not injuring anybody. Isn't it 
permitted to sit down by ths roadside?" 

Not finding an answer ready, she went 
back into 'he house. 

The -f'iv passed slowly. Toward noon 
the map lisappeared, but he came by 
again rcv^ard five o'clock. They did not 
see any more ot him during the eve- 
ning. 

Levesqii*^ returned at dusk. They told 
him about it. He remarked: 

"It is some skulker or good-for-noth- 
ing." 

He went to bed undisturbed, while liis 



A FRENCH ENOCH ARDEN 



621 



wife dreamed of this prowler who had 
looked at her so strangely. 

When day came, there was a great 
wind, and the sailor, seeing that he could 
not start out to sea, helped his wife 
at mending nets. 

About nine o'clock, the eldest daugh- 
ter, a Martin, who had gone out to get 
some bread, came back running with 
a frightened air, and cried: 

"Ma, there he is again!" 

The mother was startled and, very 
pale, said to her husband: 

"Go, and speak to him., Levesque, so 
that he won't watch us like this, be- 
cause it worries me to death." 

And Levesque, a big sailor with a 
complexion like a brick, a thickened 
beard, blue eyes, strong neck, always 
wearing woolen garments, on account 
of the wind and rain at sea, walked 
out quietly and approached the strag- 
gler. 

And they began to talk. 

The mother and the children looked 
on from the distance, anxious and 
trembling. 

Suddenly the unknown rose and 
came toward the house with Levesque. 

The wife, terrified, drew back. 

Her husband said to her: 

"Give him a piece of bread and a 
glass of cider. He hasn't eaten any- 
thing since the day before yesterday." 

They both entered the house, fol- 
lowed by the woman and the children. 
Vhe vagabond sat down and began to 
eat, with his head lowered beneath the 
prlances. 

The mother, standing up, scrutinized 
him. The two big girls, the Martins, 
leaning against the door, one of them 
holding the latest baby fixed their eager 



eyes upon him, and the two boys, seated 
in the ashes of the fireplace, had stopped 
playing with the black kettle to look 
at this stranger, too. 

Levesque, having taken a chair, asked 
him: 

"Do ycu come from a distance?" 

"I have come from Cette." 

"On foot as far as that?" 

"Yes, on foot. A man has to walk 
when he cannot afford to ride." 

"And where are you going?" 

"I was coming here." 

"You know some one here?" 

"That might be." 

They were silent. He ate slowly, al- 
though he was famished, and he took 
a sip of cider after each mouthful of 
bread. He had a worn, wrinkled face 
and seemed to have suffered much. 

Levesque brusquely asked him: 

"What is your name?" 

"My name is Martin." 

A strange shudder shook the mother. 
She took a step forward, as if to scan 
the vagabond more closely, and stood 
opposite him, with her arms hanging 
down and her mouth open. Nobody 
said anything further. Levesque finally 
resumed: 

"Are you from here?" 

He answered : "I am from here." And 
as he raised his head the woman's eyes 
and his met and remained fixed upon 
each other, as if their glances were fas- 
tened. 

She suddenly said, in a changed voice, 
low and trembling: 

"It is you, my husband?'* 

He slowly replied: 

"Yes, it is L" 

He did not move, continuing to mas- 
ticate the bread. 



^22 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



Levcsque more surprised than moved 
stammered: 

"ll is you, Martin?" 

The other man said simply: 

"Yes, it is I." 

And the second husband asked: 

"Where have you come from?" 

He first told his story. 

"From the coast to Africa, I was 
wrecked on a reef. Three of us were 
saved, Picard, Vatinel, and me. And 
then we were captured by savages who 
held us twelve years. Picard and V'a- 
tinel are dead. An English traveler 
passing that way took me and broughi 
me to Cette, and here I am." 

The woman began to weep, her face 
in her apron. 

Levesque said: 

"What shall we do now?" 

Martin asked: 

"You are her husband?" 

Levesque replied: 

"Yes, I am." 

They looked at each other ma were 
silent. 

Then Martin gazing at the children in 
a circle around him nodded toward two 
little girls. 

"Those are mine." 

Levesque said: 

"They are yours." 

He did not rise, he did not kiss them; 
he merely remarked: 

"Good God! how tall they are." 

Levesque repeated: 

"What shall we do?" 

Martin perplexed, could not tell. 
Finally he decided: 

"I will do as you wish. I don't want 
to injure you. It is vexing all the 
same, considering the house. I have 
two children, you have three, each his 



own. But the mother, is she yours or 
mine? I will consent to whatever you 
wish, but the house is mine, since my 
father left it to me, since I was bom 
here, and since there are papers for it 
at the notary's." 

The woman still wept, with little sobs 
stifled in the blue cloth of her apron. 
The two tall girls drew near and looked 
at their father with uneashiess. 

He had finished eating. But Levesque 
had an idea: 

"We must go the the priest, he will 
decide." 

Martin rose, and as he approached his 
wife, she threw herself sobbing upon his 
breast. 

My husband! yc\i are here! Martin^ 
my poor Martin, you are here!" 

And she held him in her arms, sud- 
denly pierced by a breath of olden times, 
by a great shock of memories which 
recalled to her the days when she 
was twenty and their first embraces. 

Martin, himself moved, kissed her on 
the cap. The two children, in the 
corner, began to howl together, seeing 
their mother weep, and the last born, 
in the arms of the second Martin girl, 
shrieked v;ith the sharp sound of a 
cracked fife. 

Levesque, standing up, waited : 

"Come," he said, "we must get this 
straightened out." 

Martin released his wife, and as he 
looked at his two daughters, theii 
mother said to them: 

"Kiss your father, at least." 

They approached him together, aston- 
ished, and a little afraid. And he kissed 
ihem one after the other, on both 
cheeks, with a big peasant's smack. And 
seeing this unknown approach, the little 



JULIE ROMAIN 



322 



child uttered such piercing cries that 
it almost went into convulsions. 

Then the two men went out together. 

As they passed the Caje du Com- 
merce, Levesque asked: 

"Shall we have a little drop?" 

"I would like it very much," said 
Martin. 

They entered and sat down in a room 
which was vacant. 



"Ho! Chicot, two bottles of wine, 
good wine. This is Martin who ha^ 
come back, Martin of the 'Two Sisters,' 
which was lost." 

And the tavern-keeper, thre3 glasse? 
in one hand and a carafe in the other, 
approached, large of paunch, ruddy, fat, 
and asked with a quiet air: 

"What, you here, Martin?" 

Martin replied: "I am here," 



Julk Romain 



In the springtime two years ago, I 
was walking along the shores of the 
Mediterranean. What is more charming 
than to dream while walking over a lone- 
ly road? One enjoys the sunlight and 
the caressing wind when climbing the 
mountains, or strolling by the seashore. 
And in his day-dreams, what illusions, 
what love-poems, what adventures pass 
in two hours through the mind of one 
who idles along a road. Every possible 
hope, confused and joyous, penetrates 
him with the warm, light air, he inhales 
them with the breeze, and they give 
uirth in his being to an appetite for 
happiness that increases like the hunger 
he acquires in walking. Sweet and fleet- 
ing thoughts sing in his soul as he comes 
closer to nature. 

I followed the road that leads from 
Saint Raphael to Italy, or rather, I made 
my way through that superb and chang- 
ing scenery which seems made to be 
celebrated in all the love-poems of the 
earth. It seemed to me a pity to think 
that, from Cannes to Monaco, scarcely 
anyone comes into this part of country 



save to make trouble, to juggle with 
money, or to display, under this deli- 
cious sky and in this garden of roses and 
oranges, base vanities, stupid preten- 
sions, and vile covetousness, and to show 
the human mind as it is — servile, igno- 
rant, arrogant, and grasping. 

Suddenly, in one of the curves ci the 
ravishing bays I saw a group of villas, 
four or five only, fronting on the sea 
at the loot of the mountain. Behind 
them was a wild forest of pines, which 
covered two great valleys apparently 
without roads or outlet. Involuntarily 
I stopped in front of the gate of one of 
these chalets, so pretty was it, — a little 
white cottage with brown decorations^ 
covered with roses that climbed to the 
roof. The garden was filled with flowers 
of all colors and every size, coquettishly 
arranged in studied disorder. The lawn 
was dotted with flower-beds; a vase with 
trailing vines stood on the step of the 
veranda, and over the windows hung 
clusters of purple grapes, while the stone 
ballustrade that surrounded this charm- 
ing dwelling was covered with enormous 



i24 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



red morning-glories, that looked like 
spots of bli^od. Behind the house 
stretched a ioi;g alley of orange-trees in 
flower, which reached as far as the foot 
of the mountain. 

On the door of the villa, in small, gilt 
letters, I read this name; "Villa d'An- 
tan." I asked myself what poet or fairy 
inhabited the place, what inspired 
recluse had discovered it and created 
this dream of a dwelling, that appeared 
to spring from masses of fiov/ers. 

A workman was breaking stones on 
the road at a short distance. I asked 
liim the name of the proprietor of the 
chalet. He replied that it belonged to 
the famous Madame JuHe Romain. 

Julie Romain! In my childhood I 
had often heard her spoken of, — the 
^reat actress, the rival of Rachel! No 
wom.an had been more applauded, or 
more ioved, — more loved, above all! 
How many duels had been fought and 
how many suicides had been committed 
because of her, and how many wild ad- 
ventures had been undertaken for her 
sake! What was her age now, that se- 
ductress? Sixty, — no, seventy — seventy- 
■ave years. Julie Romain! Here, in this 
house! I recalled again the emotion 
created throughout France (I was 
twelve years old then) by her flight to 
Sicily with one lover, a poet, after her 
notorious quarrel with another adorer. 

She fled with her new love one eve- 
ning, after a first-night representation, 
during which the audience had applauded 
her for half an hour and called her out 
eleven times in succession. She went 
away with the poet in a post-chaise, as 
was the custom then; they had crossed 
the sea in order to love in that antique 
island, daughter of Greece, under the 



immense grove of orange-trees that sur« 
rounds Palermo, which is called the 
"Conque d'Ov." 

Their ascent of ^tna was gossiped 
about, and also how they hung over the 
immense crater, arm in arm, cheek 
against cheek, as if they desired to throw 
themselves into the gulf of fire. 

He was dead now, the writer of affect- 
ing verses, of poems so brilliant that 
they dazzled a whole generation, and so 
subtle and mysterious that they openefi 
a new world to other poets. 

The other lover was dead also, the 
abandoned one, who created for her 
those musical expressions that remain in 
all hearts, — expressions of triumph and 
despair that are at once intoxicating and 
heartrending. 

She lived here, in this house veiled 
with flowers ! 

I hesitated no longer. T range the bell. 
A domestic came to open the door, a 
boy of eighteen years, awkward and shy, 
with hands that appeared to be in his 
way. I wrote on my card a gallant 
compliment to the old actress, and an 
ardent prayer that she would receive me. 
Perhaps she might know my name and 
allow me to see her. 

The young valet disappeared, but soon 
returned and asked me to follow him. 
He showed me into a neat drawing-room, 
correct in every detail m the style of 
Louis Philippe, with furniture of a cold 
and cumbersome fashion, the coverings 
of which were being removed in my 
honor by a little maid of about sixteen 
years, with a slender figure but not 
much beauty. 

Then the servants left me alone. I 
looked around the room with interest. 
On the walls hung three portraits, one 



JULIE ROMAIN 



325 



was of the actress in a celebrated role, 
another was of the poet-lover, wearing a 
long frock-coat, tight at the waist, and 
the ruffled shirt of those days, and the 
third was of the musician, seated before 
a clavichord. The lady was blond and 
charming in her portrait, but her pose 
was a little affected, as was the fashion 
of that day. Her charming mouth and 
blue eyes smiled graciously; and the 
technique of the painting v/as of a high 
degree of excellence. Those three re- 
markable faces seemed to be looking 
already at the next generation, and their 
surroundings had an air of a day that 
was past and of individualities that 
were no more. 

A door opened and a little woman en- 
tered. She was very old, very small, 
with eyebrows and bands of white hair. 
Som.ehow she reminded me of a white 
mouse, quick and furtive in her move- 
ments. She gave me her hand, and, with 
a voice that was still fresh, vibrating, 
and sonorous, she said graciously: 
"Thank you, Monsieur. It is very kind 
of the men of to-day to remember the 
women of yesterday! Be seated!" 

I told her that her house had attracted 
me, that I had tried to learn the name 
of the proprietor, and, having learned 
it, I could not resist the desire to ring 
her bell. 

"Your visit gives me the greater plea- 
sure. Monsieur," she said, *'as it is the 
first time such an event has happened. 
When your card was handed to me, with 
the gracious compliment it carried, I 
was as startled as if some one had an- 
nounced an old friend who had been 
gone these twenty years. I am forgotten, 
truly forgotten, no one i ^members me, 
no one will think of me Hntil the day 



of my death; then, all the papers will 
talk for three days of Julie Romain, 
telling anecdotes, giving details, and 
souvenirs and scandals, and, perhaps, 
pompous eulogies. Then that will be 
the end of me!" 

She was silent a moment and then re- 
sumed: ''And that will not be long 
now. In a few months, in a few days, 
perhaps, the little woman who is now 
alive will be nothing but a corpse!" 

She raised her eyes to her portrait 
which met her gaze as if smiling at that 
withered caricature of itself; then she 
looked at the two men, the scornful 
poet and the inspired musician, both of 
whom seemed to say: "What does that 
ruin ask of us?" 

An indescribable, keen, irresistible 
sadness seized my hearty the sadness that 
overwhelms those whose lives are 
finished and who struggle still with 
memories as a drowning man struggles 
in deep water. 

From the place where I sat I could see 
brilliant and swiftly moving carriages 
passing along the road, going from Nice 
to Monte Carlo. And seated inside 
were beautiful young women, rich and 
happy, and men, smiling and satisfied. 
She followed my glance, and, compre- 
hending my thought, murmured with a 
resigned smile: "It is not possible to 
be and to have been at the same time." 

"How beautiful life must have been 
for you!" I said. 

She sighed deeply: "Yes, beautiful 
and sweet ! It is for that reason that I 
regret it so much." 

I saw that she w^as disposed to talk 
of herself; so, softly and with delicate 
precautions, as one would touch a pain- 
ful wound, I began to question her 



326 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



She spoke of her success, of her in- 
toxicaiing joys, of her friends, of her 
whole triumphant existence. 

"Your greatPs. joy and your deepest 
happiness — did you owe ihem to the 
theater, Madame?" I asked. 

"Oh! no," she replied quickly. 

I smiled and she added, raising her 
eyes, with a sad look, to the portraits 
of the two men: 

"I owed my greatest happiness to 
them." 

I could not refrain from asking her 
to which one she owed it. 

"To both. Monsieur! I even confuse 
them in my mind sometimes, and be- 
sides, I feel remorse toward one of them 
to this day." 

"Then, Madame, it is not to them but 
to the act of love itself that you owe 
your gratitude. They have merely been 
love's instruments." 

"That is possible. But, ah! what won- 
derful instruments!" 

"Are you certain that you have not 
been loved — that you would not have 
been loved as well, and perhaps better, 
by a simple man, one who was net great, 
but who would have offered you his 
whole lifj, his whole heart, his whole 
being, every thought and every hour? 
With those two you had two formidable 
rivals — m-usic and poetry." 

She cried out with force, with that 
youthful voice, which could still thrill 
the soul: "No, Monsieur, no! A simpler 
man might have loved me better, per- 
haps, but he would not have loved me as 
those two did. Ah! but they knew how 
to sing the music of love, as no other 
m;in in the world could have sung it. 

"How they intoxicated me ! Is it pos- 
Mble that any other man could have 



found that which they found in words 
and in sounds? Is it enough to love, 
if one does not know how to put into 
love all the poetry and all the music of 
the sky and the earth? They knew, 
those two, how to make a woman ec- 
static with joy and with their songs and 
their words as well as with their deeds. 
Yes, there was perhaps more of illusion 
than reality in our passion; but those 
illusions Hft you to the clouds, whereas 
realities, alone, always leave you on the 
earth. If others loved me more, it was 
through them alone that I learned, felt, 
and adored love!" 

Suddenly she began to weep, noise- 
lessly. tears of bitter sorrow. I appeared 
not to notice it and looked far away 
out of the window. After a few mo- 
ments she went on : 

"You see. Monsieur, with most people 
the heart grows old with the body. With 
me that has not happened. My poor 
body is sixty nine years old, but my 
heart is only twenty. And that is the 
reason why 1 live all alone, with my 
flowers and my vlreams." 

Again a long ulence fell between us 
After a time sh * calmed herself, and 
again spoke smili. >gly: 

"How you woui i laugh at me, Mon- 
sieur, if you kne'w how I pass my eve 
nings when the wt ither is fire! I am 
ashamed of my foL v and pity myself at 
the same time." 

It was useless fo • me to bog her to 
tell me; she would lot do so; then I 
rose to go, at which %he cried, "What! 
so soon?" 

I told her that I had intended to 
dine at Monte Carlo, «rid at once she 
asked, a little timidly; 'Wonld you not 



JULIE ROMAIN 



327 



like to dine with me? It would give me 
very much pleasure." 

I accepted her invitation immediately. 
She appeared dehghted and rang the 
bell; then, when she had given a few 
orders to the little maid, she said she 
would hke to show me her house. 

A kind of glass-covered veranda, fuU 
of plants, opened from the dining-room, 
and permitted one to see, from one 
end to the other, the long alley of 
orange-trees, extending to the foot of 
the mountains. A low seat, hidden un- 
der the shrubbery, indicated that the 
aged actress often came to sit there. 

Then we went into the garden to 
look at the flowers. Evening came on 
softly, one of those calm, warm e*^enings 
that bring forth all the perfumes of 
the earth. It was almost dark when we 
placed ourselves at the tabh. Th3 din- 
ner was excellent and we sat long over 
it. We became quite intimate friends. 
A profound sympathy for her had 
sprung up in my heart. She drank a 
glass of w!r.e and became more friendly 
and confidential. 

"Let U3 10 out and look at the moon," 
she said at last. "I adore tl:e moon, 
the lovely moon! It has been the wit- 
ness of n:y greatest joys. It seems to 
me that all my sv/ee.est memories are 
treasured tlierc, anJ that I have only to 
look at it in order to have them rome 
back to me. And sometimes, in the 
evening, I arrange for myself a pretty 
scene, so pretly — If you only knew! 
But no, you would laugh at me too 
much — I cannot tell you — I don't dare 
— no, — ^no, I cannot tell you!" 

"Ah, JMadarr.e, continue, I "Dray!" I 
begged of her. "What is your little 



secret? Tell me I i promise you not 
to laugh — I swear it!" 

She hesitated; I took lier hands, her 
Door little hands, so thin and cold, and 
kissed them one after the other many 
times, as her lovers weie wont to do 
in former days. She was moved, though 
she still hesitated. 

"You promise me not to laugh?*' she 
said timidly. 

"Yes, I swear it, Madame!'* 

"Well, then come!" she said with a 
smile. 

We rose from the table, and as the 
awkward youth in green livery drew 
back the chair behind her, she spoke a 
few low, quick words in his ear. 

He repHed, respectfully, "Yes, Ma» 
dame, immediately." 

She took my arm and led me upon the 
veranda. The crange-tree walk was a 
beautiful sight. The moon cast a slen* 
der line of silver among the trees,- -a 
long line of light that fell on the yel- 
lew sand between the dense and rounded 
branches. As the trees were in bloom, 
their delicious and penetrating perfume 
Cllcd the air, and among the dark foliage 
were thousands of fireflies, whose tiny 
flames looked like the seed of stars. 

"Oh, what an ideal environment for a 
scene of love!" I cried. 

She smiled. "Is it not? Is it not? 
You will see presently!" 

She made me sit down beside her, 
and murmured: 

"The memory of such scenes is what 
makes me regret life. But you hardly 
dream of those things, you men of to- 
day. You are merely money-makers, 
business men. You don't know how to 
talk to us even. When I say 'us,* I 
mean women who are yoiiiig. Love 



328 



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT 



affairs have become merely liaisons, 
which originate often in an unacknow- 
ledged bill of the dressmaker. I^ you 
find the bill more important than the 
woman, you disappear; but if you 
esteem the woman of greater value than 
the bill, you pay! Nice manners, and 
charming affections!" 

She took my hand. "Look!" she said. 

I was astonished and transported with 
pleasure